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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Monday, June 29, 2009

CFZ PEOPLE: Kithra is a grandmother (again)

Congratulations to Liz from Cornwall, aka Kithra of http://kithraskrystalkave.org.uk/ on the birth of her fifth grandchild, a girl called Brooklyn, who weighed in at 7lbs 3 oz. It is good to have some good news for a change....


It was Alan Friswell who told us about the Center for Biological Diversity (pedants please note: the organisation is based in the US so I use their spelling of Center/Centre, not ours, before someone starts accusing me of double standards), and he sent me a copy of their latest newsletter. I was very impressed and said so; so I checked out their website, which reads:

'At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

We want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive.'

Well, how the hell can you argue with that? I can't. The latest issue features news of a lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society forced the U.S. Department of Agriculture to re-examine a tamarisk leaf-eating beetle programme that's been hurting the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. Fascinating stuff.


Sunila Sen Gupta from Switzerland sent us this:

Uknown life form lives in sewers. Notice the retraction of a stiff nail-like object from the third and last creature from the seam in the pipe.

NEIL ARNOLD: The Maidstone Monkey

I have known Neil for fifteen years now, since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippy who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years; we are just both a tad older....

A Mr Price reported that a year or so ago, in the wilds of Maidstone, he was awoken one night by a startled domestic cat. Upon reaching his bedroom window and looking out, he was amazed to see a 'monkey' bound along and head off towards the woods.
Mr Price had seen a large puma a few years before but the last thing he expected was a monkey. In height he stated that the creature was Labrador-size, but the length smaller than a domestic cat, as on all fours it leaped by.

Read On


When I was a boy white tigers were exceptionally rare. Indeed, from memory, I remember reading something claiming that the only ones in the world were at Bristol Zoo, to which they had been presented by the Maharajah of somewhere or other in the 1920s.

Now they seem to be everywhere.

Either my Boy's Book of Knowledge, that my Auntie Phyllis gave me for a birthday present in about 1966, mislead me or Siegfried and Roy teamed up with the fugitive Josef Mengele somewhere in Bolivia in the 1970s and carried out a series of Boys from Brazil-type big cat breeding experiments. Or possibly there is a third explanation.

However, that is not what I wanted to write about. Beth from Hartland Wildlife Rescue recently sent me a series of pictures (from which I have extracted these five) of some ridiculously cute Chimpanzee/ White tiger cub interaction.

Having lived with Richard Freeman for the best part of a decade, and known him even longer, I have always been conditioned by him to think of chimps as mean, vicious killing machines, the "pilled up hobo with a hammer" of the higher primates. But surprisingly Richard confirmed that such interactions are not uncommon.

He writes:

The public's view of the common chimpanzee as a cute, cuddly, mischevious little scamp is one of the most egregiously wrong assesments of any animal. Around eight times stronger than a man, armed with savage teeth, and a demented hatred of almost everything and everyone, the chimp is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable animals on earth.

I have worked with over 400 different species of animal and the chimp is the one I trust the least, and one of the very few for which I have an have an active dislike. Some animals will kill you for food or if they think you are a threat. Chimps will kill out of sheer malice and bloodlust. One of a chimp's favourate tricks is to tear a man's testicles off when attacking him.

How odd it was, then, when I found out years ago, that chimps like cats and dogs. Back in my days as a keeper at Twycross Zoo (home of the now huge and vicious PG Tips chimps) I was told by keeper Betty Walsh that chimps love to play with dogs and cats, and are quite gentle with them.

I have seen several film sequences of this occuring and the normally brutal chimps being as gentle as lambs.


A few years ago, just before my father was taken ill, and I was forced to move from Exeter to North Devon, Richard and I went to a lecture at the Arts Centre in Exeter. It was by Ray Harryhausen, the master of stop-motion animation, and the father of such films as Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, and various voyages of Sinbad.

It was a fascinating evening, and shaking his hand afterwards is a memory of which I am very proud. In fact, of all the famous people I have met over the years, it is Harryhausen, Dave Brubeck (whom I interviewed in a Torquay Leisure Centre in 1989), and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin that I ever dine out on, and of the three the greatest is Harryhausen.

Why am I sharing this with you today? Well, Alan Friswell writes:

Hi Jon.

I don't know if you would like to post this up, but it's Ray Harryhausen's birthday today (29th), and he's still working on new projects at the age of 89, so there's hope for us all. I'm sure that everyone on the CFZ site would like to wish Ray many happy returns, and say thanks for all the great movies that he has given us through the years.

Al :)

Right on Al!

STEVE JONES: Singing Mice

It is always a pleasure to welcome a new blogger, and a double pleasure when the aforesaid new blogger is an old friend. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Steve Jones. Not the Sex Pistols guitar hero, but the Yorkshire JP and witch, who I take pleasure in introducing to people as "my mate the Pagan Magistrate"....

I have just got around to finishing reading last years CFZ yearbook (In my defence, I have a pile of stuff to read!). I finished reading Jon's article on singing mice and thought I would turn to the trusty Google to see what else I could turn up. Cue lots of sites featuring an animation of a mouse singing "You Sexy thing" to a lump of cheese!

However, it did turn up a copy of the article in Time in 1936 on a singing mouse already mentioned by Jon in his article. More interestingly, however, I found this article from 2005, which I don't recall having come across before:


Not only have scientists found out that male mice do sing, but that it is a sexual response. I note that Jon's researches on the subject mentioned mainly male mice. The site has two mp3 recordings of singing mice for you all to listen too as well! It would seem, though, that as the mice are usually chirping ultra-sonically and thus beyond the normal human hearing range, the ones that became showbiz stars must have been the equivalent of mice Basso Profundo's!
I now have a mental image of a mice opera in my head!

Here is a link to the paper on singing male mice:
It turns out that there is a lot of stuff on the net about singing mice. Here is a document on their distribution and song affected by climate:

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today

Today is a Monday and Monday is Movie Monday on YNT. This week’s film is the other really good Stephen King prison story, The Green Mile:

And now, the latest cryptozoology news and bad pun:

Wildlife skyscraper wins design award
Woylie Conservation Research Project
Tracking device leads authorities to stolen snake
Monkeys fall for visual illusion
Fears over return of 'black plague'
I share my home with 11 cats - four cheetahs, five lions and two tigers
Scientists find tiny new bat species: Geneva museum

‘Bats’ really small.