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, April 03, 2009


Jon is still pretty badly unwell, and is unable to work more than an hour or so a day. The current financial crisis here at the CFZ is not helping, but there is not a lot that we can do about that. We are owed significant sums of money at the moment, but sadly everyone seems to be in the same boat, and nobody is paying up. If it carries on like this then God alone knows where it will end. We can only hope that some of the money comes through!

We are not asking for money, (unless you really want to give us some), but what we would like is some more bloggers. This is a collaborative effort, and we rely upon the input of our guest bloggers. So guys, dig deep into your creative writing pockets (if you know what I mean) and send in contributions.

Keeping this level of original content each day is a number one priority for the CFZ, and it is one of the things that is stressing Jon out most. (He would probably be furious if he read this, because he likes to think he is immortal and invulnerable, whereas we all know that stress is one of the worst things for people with a heart condition). So let's pull together, and give him time to recover...


Dave from Doncaster, aged 12, is a regular follower of the CFZ bloggo. He emailed us a link to this YouTube video after seeing the debate of the conjoined pike photographs earlier this week. Conjoined terrapins are not unknown but are still pretty rare. Thanks Dave.


I have always been fond of this particular image, because although it is obviously a hoax, it is a hoax that has been manufactured with one particular purpose in mind - to make people laugh. Because it is a hoax so unutterably ludicrous that one cannot, for a moment, imagine that anyone would take it seriously.

You would be surprised.

A few years ago I was working as the deputy editor of a tropical fish magazine called Tropical World. The editor was a very nice bloke, but he had health problems, and a weakness for the sauce which eventually killed him, so I ended up running the show for a considerable amount of the time.

One day when the editor was in hospital and I was once again in charge, I received an email from someone attaching this picture. Now, I had only ever seen it before in a wonderful book called Animal Fakes and Frauds by a bloke called Peter Dance, and was completely unprepared for a letter from a bloke saying that he was in the throes of setting up a coldwater fishtank, with some unusual inhabitants, and was looking for a furry trout to complete his collection.

The frightening thing was that this geezer was obviously somewhat of a fish afficianado (a piece of alliteration that sounds better read out than it does writen down). He already had some rather impressive North American coldwater fish (including bullhead catfish and pumpkinseeds, which are both technically illegal to keep) and an expensive filtration system.

So maybe I was once again suffering from the sin of pride through prior knowledge. There are, after all, hairy frogs. Why not furry trout?


Today's entry in the ongoing saga of "Christ on a bike, don't people have any knowledge of natural history at all?" goes to some person on YouTube using the pseudonym of `Roxielovesaustin` who posted the following video with the message: "I was in Julian, CA. and was driving around with my dog, Roxie. We saw a weird looking turkey and scared the crap out of us...we decided to check it out".
Turkey? It is a vulture with something seriously wrong with it. If this is what they eat for Thanksgiving in California it explains a lot...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today


Mr Wilson (not to be confused with the other Mr Wilson as, to my knowledge, he has never been hassled by a small blonde American child) has been very busy posting cryptozoological news to the CFZ daily news blog the last few days and it is my pleasure to post yesterday’s news here in an easily digestible digest:

Taiwan man brings home the bacon
No fooling: This bunny has two noses
Animal lover's house is really wild
Two more cows found mutilated
Op for puppy that ate baby's dummy
Mark Burrows goes on the trail of the big cats of Dorset
Putin's dog eats Russian party bosses' food

Maybe they’ll be ‘Putin’ the dog in another room the next time they prepare a meal.


Yet another press release has come out from the Red Rose Chain Theatre Company which is staging an outdoor production of A Winter's Tale in the forest in August. It begins: "A 'bear' spotted roaming a Suffolk forest was actually an actor in costume promoting an outdoor production of Shakespeare."

This is actually the third different explanation for events in as many days. First we were told that the thespian bods had faked a video, then that they had made up the eyewitness sightings, and now that the sightings were provoked by a bloke in a costume.

This is rather odd. :

Actor and designer Jimmy Grimes said: "We didn't want to scare anyone. The idea is to get kids interested and excited about the play. We want to create a family-friendly, fairytale feel for the production.

Jimmy dude, you are certainly doing that, because now - in the best traditions of fortean investigation- nobody quite knows what was going wrong. According to all the stories:

The 'bear' was spotted by three people including Jenny Pearce who saw it as she finished a picnic with her three-year-old son. She said: "It was really big, moving through the trees. I picked up my son and went back to the car."

Now, no-one at the CFZ is disputing that the whole thing is an elaborate, and furthermore a well-staged hoax. But what exactly did happen. Did Jenny Pearce actually exist? Was she a figment of the imagination? Was she a friend or associate of the theatre company who just joined in for the lulz? Or did she see something?

If she did see something, did she see the shadowy figure of some bloke in a bear costume wandering about in the woods? If so, it must have been a good 'un! Even in these intellectually impoverished days when no-one seems to know ow't about the natural world, one would have thought that an eyewitness could have distinguished between a dude in a bear costume and a bipedal member of the family ursidae.

Or has the cutesy cartoon ethic which has so permeated society to the extent that intelligent, attractive, and otherwise seemingly together young people like the ones that I met at the Royal Academy back in January, call themselves members of a `furry fandom`, put on childish costumes, and have turned to recreating their childhood TV cartoon favourites to get their sexual jollies, permeated society to such an extent, that witnesses truly think that bears waalk bipedally all the time? If this is the case then Jenny probably ran back to her car in order to protect her picnic basket from Yogi and Boo Boo.

This is all very peculiar.

As I said above, nobody here is disputing the fact that the story is basically a hoax, but like all stories in the fortean ominiverse, it has developed a life of its own. Twice so far this year (the seal carcass in January, and the `Devil's Footprints` in March) the CFZ has become involved in a news story which balooned out of all control, and became far more important than it actually deserved. Darren naish also noted the same thing in connection with the absurd fuss made over a dead racoon last year, that was so banal that we ignored it to our detriment. Those who commented on it, had enormous amounts of media attention and tens of thousands of visitors to their websites.

I have a sneaking suspicion that this `Montauk Monster Syndrome` is an increasingly important phenomenon as far as cryptozoology is concerned, and in the current era of mass, and almost instantaeneous, communication it is only going to become more important.

So watch this space, and examine the aetiology of the next nonsensensical crypto-story as diligently as you can.