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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Friday, November 23, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 23rd November 2007


Five British explorers from The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ], based in rural North Devon, are deep in the little known grasslands of Guyana, South America on the track of unknown animals. The expedition is sponsored by Capcom, one of the world’s leading video game manufacturers, and is led by Richard Freeman (37) a British zoologist and explorer. The team have been in the wilds of South America for over a week now, and despite setbacks such as injury, heatstroke, equipment malfunction, and even a burgeoning political crisis which many commentators have described as an “invasion” of Guyana by neighbouring Venezuela, their initial findings appear remarkable.

They have obtained a wealth of anecdotal evidence for the existence of the three animals that they went there to investigate.

Giant anaconda
Water tiger

They have secured this evidence in the form of filmed interviews with eye-witnesses in this remote part of rural Guyana. Amongst these are two chilling accounts of young women being abducted by the didi (pronounced ‘die die’). None of these stories have been published in Europe or America before.

Perhaps the most important results so far are evidence for two completely hitherto unknown animals: a tiny brown crocodile, and a three-foot high hairy creature that walks upright like a man, and has a bright red face. They also have secured the first video footage of a living specimen of a recently discovered species of green scorpion.

The team do not return to the UK until Wednesday, 28th November, so there is plenty of time for you to join the thousands of people worldwide who follow their adventures on http://cfzguyana.blogspot.com/

CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is available for interview, and photographs of expedition members, and other images, are also available. Please telephone Jon or Corinna on 01237 431413.


+ The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is the world’s largest mystery animal research organisation. It was founded in 1992 by British author Jonathan Downes (48) and is a non-profit making (not for profit) organisation registered with H.M. Stamp Office.
+ Life-president of the CFZ is Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his groundbreaking youth work organising the ‘Operation Drake’ and ‘Operation Raleigh’ expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s.
+ CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is the author and/or editor of over 20 books. Island of Paradise, his first hand account of two expeditions to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in search of the grotesque vampiric chupacabra, will be published in early 2008.
+ The CFZ have carried out expeditions across the world including Sumatra, Mongolia, Guyana, Gambia, Texas, Mexico, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Loch Ness, and Loch Morar.
+ CFZ Press are the world’s largest publishers of books on mystery animals. They also publish Animals & Men, the world’s only cryptozoology magazine, and Exotic Pets, Britain’s only dedicated magazine on the subject.
+ The CFZ produce their own full-length documentaries through their media division called CFZtv (www.cfztv.org). One of their films Lair of the Red Worm which was released in early 2007 and documents their 2005 Mongolia expedition has now been seen by nearly 30,000 people.
+ The CFZ is based in Jon Downes’ old family home in rural North Devon which he shares with his wife Corinna (51). It is also home to various members of the CFZ’s permanent directorate and a collection of exotic animals.
+ Corinna and Jonathan Downes are shareholders in Tropiquaria – a small zoo in North Somerset (www.tropiquaria.co.uk).
+ Jonathan Downes presents a monthly web TV show called On the Track (http://cfzmonthly.blogspot.com/) which covers cryptozoology and work of the CFZ.
+ The CFZ are currently building a Visitor Centre and Museum in Woolsery, North Devon.
+ Each year the CFZ presents an annual conference (www.weirdweekend.org)
+ Following their successful partnership with Capcom (www.capcom.com) on the 2007 Guyana expedition, the CFZ are looking for more commercial sponsors.

Going to the Wars

These last few weeks have been strange ones here at the CFZ. Not only have I been particularly unwell, and as mad as a bag full of cheese for a large portion of it, but also I have had to cast aside my madness as best as I can and co-ordinate the running of the Guyana expedition blog (see the link on the side of the page).

I have spent much of the rest of the time in bed, and I have been re-discovering the writings of an old friend of mine: Sir John Verney. He is probably best known for his semi-autobiographical book Going to the Wars, which recounts his spectacularly exciting military career, but he has always been most important to me through his alter-ego, journalist and harassed father Augustus “Gus” Callendar, one of the central characters of a series of children’s books which were written between 1959 and 1972. Much to my grave disappointment, they remain spectacularly obscure, and very few people have heard of them. However, they all have a worthy message to those of us of a fortean persuasion, and have peculiarly surrealchemical plot twists and anarchistic themes, which are all the more peculiar when you discover that the author is not only a notable war hero, but also a minor Peer of the Realm.

The five books are:

Friday’s Tunnel (1959)
February’s Road (1961)
ISMO (1963)
Seven Sunflower Seeds (1968)
Samson’s Hoard (1972)

The last three books, in particular, are very fortean in their outlook, in that at every twist and turn of the plot you find out that, as Lloyd Pye said, “everything you know is wrong”. And all preconceptions are demolished, as Verney plays surreal word games worthy of Tony Shiels upon the hapless reader. Whereas, on the surface at least, these books appear to be stuck well within the genre, which was popular 50 years ago of ‘middle class children, with ponies, having adventures and thwarting the adult world’, in reality these books are far more complex. Where else in the canon of children’s literature do you find two novels about a mythical global anarchist group founded in Italy by an Italian aristocrat posing as a pop singer (who has always reminded me of the late Richard Chanfray, who alongside a not very successful career as a third rate Jacques Brel or Claude Francois, copyist, claimed to be the immortal and invisible Count of Saint Germain)? And, furthermore, where in the canon of children’s literature do you find novels in which the concept of anarchism, at least as practised by the CFZ, is portrayed not just in a positive light, but as a jolly good idea?

Although I hope that you will all continue to follow the adventures of the Guyana Five (as Nick Redfern has dubbed them), to download my latest album from www.cfz.org.uk/music and watch On the Track (see the new link on the side of this page), if you have a few quid left during the inexorable run-up to what is euphemistically described as the festive season, I urge you to go to Abe Books www.abebooks.com and have a look for one or more of the above titles. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.