Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Sad news...

Jill Martin of the Tortoise Trust has died. From their website:

Jill Martin

1953 – 2005

16 September 2005

The Tortoise Trust has just lost our dear Jill, co-founder and guiding light from the very beginning. Earlier this year, Jill collapsed suddenly from what turned out to be a brain tumour (metastasis). This was successfully treated by means of neurosurgery and radiotherapy, by the wonderful team of doctors and nurses at Morriston and Singleton hospitals in Swansea, Wales. Jill made excellent progress and was soon back at work, as ever, tending tortoise patients and running the Tortoise Trust office. Unfortunately, the brain tumour was secondary to a very aggressive cervical cancer, and despite all efforts, in recent weeks, Jill’s condition deteriorated rapidly. She died today, with her family and friends.

Jill Martin was a pioneer. She was one of the very first people to see the need for better keeper education, and for improvements in the veterinary management of sick chelonians. She played a vital role in developing many of the husbandry and rehabilitation methods that are now commonplace and accepted as standard, such as effective nutritional management to prevent MBD, the importance of substrates and microclimates, the development of effective indoor/outdoor habitats, and techniques for nursing sick tortoises back to health. Although many do not realise it, Jill Martin was there at the beginning and inspired and developed these techniques from nothing. As a field-worker she was a bundle of energy, with an amazing and acute eye for natural history detail. She was a tireless worker for tortoises and turtles. She worked 7 days a week, and never complained. She answered thousands of phone calls and letters from worried keepers, and was always available to take in any sick or unwanted tortoise. She never turned a sick or needy animal away in all of the 30 years that I have known her. She was a wonderfully talented musician, an artist, and faithful friend and colleague.

Don't talk to me about life.....

When I started this blog a number of people told me that they, too, had started blogs, but although they had begun with a full flush of enthusiasm,, they had soon tired of the task and the blog had fizzled out. I am sure that when any of these Job's comforters see that there is a gap of several days (bloody hell its a week - I hadn't realised that it was that long) in this ongoing missive they assume that I, too, have succumbed to the malaise of would-be bloggers everywhere.

Not so dudes!

Life has just been immeasurably busy, and I have had to prioritise with the calls upon my time. I was ill for several days, then I had the glorious distraction of my darling Corinna coming down for the weekend, and now my father is ill again and taking up much of my

However, Mark North is back in the office together with me and John Fuller this week, and I hope that we shall be able to get a lot
sorted over the next few days.

The CFZ is at a crossroads. We have been going for nearly a decade and a half now, and we have nearly gone as far as we can under the current set up. Over the last week I have received two excellent proposals for expeditions, but they are both expeditions that will need far more funding than we presently have. The Centre for Fortean Zoology, for many years, was a haphazard and anarchic bunch of people - basically “The Last Gang in Town” as Joe Strummer would have said. Now, we are the biggest and fastest growing cryptozoological organisation in the world and have been becoming ever more respectable as the years continue.

However, if we are to achieve the goals that we are now setting ourselves we must achieve a level of mass-acceptance that has to date eluded us. The CFZ has become remarkably succesful, but the time has come for us to court the sort of sponsorship and investment that we will only get with mass acceptance. The CFZ has to become a more `normal` organisation, which is why the Weird Weekend next year will be much larger, but much more community orientated.

We have to tread a fine line between respectability and `selling out`. Although we must gain more credibility in the eyes of the general public, I will NOT let the CFZ become a bland and dull organisation. Whilst the time forsome of the excesses of the past is now gone, I am very much aware ofthe pitfalls into which other organisations have fallen; in trying to be all things to all men, they have signally failed to be anything to anyone. This will NOT happen to the CFZ.

Somehow we have to tread a fine line between credibility and obscurity. "The Last Gang in Town" must carry on, but it is time that we shed some of our most overt eccentricities and became accessible to everyone!