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, July 13, 2009


July 14th 2009 is the first annual International Donj Day, where cat lovers (and non-lovers) around the globe must celebrate Orange Cats and their gingery marmaladeness.

Before anyone points out the obvious, I am aware that July 14th is also Bastille Day in France. July 14th is also the birthday of my good friend Aurelia and we manage to celebrate that, so I'm sure we can manage to celebrate National Donj Day as well.

Happy birthday Aurelia, by the way, and happy Bastille Day to the French.

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

According to the poet T.S. Eliot in 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats', all cats must have three different names. The first is a sensible everyday name, the second is a name that must never belong to more than one cat, and the third is known by the cat and the cat alone.

My 10-year-old ginger cat is unusual in that he is far more commonly known by the second of these names, with his 'everyday' name now being used only occasionally. His everyday name is Orange Cat, although his 'proper' name is Spider McGraw.

So, why National Donj Day? What is Donj and what has it to do with the Orange Cat? Basically, after a time Orange Cat became the French 'Chat d'Orange'; this was later shortened to just 'd'Orange' and subsequently bastardised to 'Donj'. The Orange Cat is certainly a character. He is one of those cats whose pride is precious to him, to such an extent that if he falls off the arm of the chair during a nap, he will feign sleep and pretend that he 'did it on purpose'. He will also beg for food under the table like a dog and loves crisps and cake*.

I managed to blame the Orange Cat for breaking the bathroom light in our old home for several months, and I think to this date I have got away with it (although now my deceit will clearly be uncovered). Bored one evening, I picked up the Orange Cat and placed him carefully on a small shelf mounted on the wall near the doorway of our bathroom. Of course, shortly afterwards he jumped down, somehow catching the cord of the light-switch as he went and damaging the mechanism in the ceiling. I pretended he'd done it by himself and that I'd had nothing to do with it. We all had to shower in darkness for months. I think he should share at least some of the blame.

He makes his living in Hollywood, although we have yet to see a penny of the rewards. ** The biggest roles to date are probably as 'Puss in Boots' in the Shrek films and as the infamous 'Garfield', although several bit parts have also helped make his name and he can often be seen popping up in films and on television. Of course, marmalade fame runs in the family. An ancestor was the feline star of Breakfast at Tiffany's alongside Audrey Hepburn, and other family members appeared as Data's cat 'Spot' in the television series of Star Trek and 'Jones' in the movie Alien. But orangery is not a phenomenon limited to this household alone.

A very brief scan through Google produces a plethora of sites dedicated to Orange Cats, including: · an entire group on the photo-sharing site Flickr, · a blog belonging to Jeff the Giant Orange Cat (under the name of http://www.whatjeffkilled.com/),· a page entitled 'I have a problem with Orange Cat peeing in my bed?' which, I must state, is nothing to do with our particular Orange. In fact, the world's love of carrot-topped cats does not stop there. Google also reveals a cafĂ©, a wedding photography service and even a carnival glass dealer, all named after Orange Cats. So show your support for National Donj Day and let's celebrate orangery in all its glory, for without Orange Cats the world would surely be a much duller and less colourful place!

*This is of course a presumed love backed up by no hard evidence whatsoever, since no self-respecting vet would ever feed their cat crisps or cake.

** EDITOR'S NOTE: The Orange cat also works as chief typesetter of CFZ Press. If you have any of the books we have produced since the summer of 2007, have a gander at the title information page. Orange Cat invariably appears. But beware: He can take many guises....


Another piece of ongoing research from the incomparable Richard Muirhead. I still don't know how he does it, but when I said this last time he wrote:


To quote Maradonna. I think research skills, at least my own, are a divine or 'wild' talent. To quote Fort!

Love, Rich


Yesterday evening I was about my business of being a step-father, (both my lovely step-daughters have been here for the weekend) and all round family person, (I have a family, and I'm fairly round), when an e-mail came into my inbox. It read:

A mysterious-looking body found along the shore of Okanagan Lake might be the remains of the legendary Ogopogo, an expert says. Dan Poppoff found the 1.2-metre-long carcass last month while he was kayaking in the lake, close to Kelowna.

The Kelowna resident immediately called Arlene Gaal, who has written three books about the legendary sea creature and documented sightings of the Ogopogo for the last 30 years.

The headline reads:

Mystery carcass may be legendary monster: Expert

It appears that Arlene, who I have been in correspondence with over the years, and who seems an eminently sensible person, is actually quite excited by this carcass, which is a good sign. She is one of the people in this business, whose opinion I tend to trust. However, there is a slight problem. No-one seems to have a copy of any of the photographs.

We are not being negative here. The fact that Arlene is quoted as appearing to give a certain degree of credence to this carcass can only be a good thing. But I would be very interested to take a gander at the pics myself.

However, despite the story appearing on dozens of websites, several of which, by the way, where it was illustrated by the picture above; which not only was taken by me (I don't care when people pinch my pictures by the way, but I do like to be credited, and for them to be used in context) but shows a fibreglass Nessie next to the Loch Ness Visitor's Centre in Scotland, there are no pictures (at least none that I can find) of the carcass itself.

This I find mildly disturbing, because whenever the words `lake monster carcass` are used I am reminded of the furore from 2005 when it was claimed that this specimen, which is undoubtedly the antler of a roebuck, was the tooth of the Loch Ness Monster.

Politely, I tried to explain what it was, but - once again - was accused of being a tool of the government and of oppression in general, masterminding a cover-up for having done so.

But I digress. In view of Arelene's apparent endorsement, I cannot but be intrigued by this latest story, so guys - if anyone out there has a copy of the picture, or if Dan Popoff himself is reading this, please email me a copy....


So another new species has been discovered in the dusty store-rooms of a natural history museum.

Scientists from the Smithsonian Inbstitute were going through the archives at the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences and found a hitherto unknown fruit batwhich after sitting on a shelf for more than 150 years, has it finally been "discovered" as a new species.

And it is probably extinct.

Academy records show the bat was collected in 1856 by Henry Clay Caldwell of the Navy on the Samoan island of Upolu. It came into the possession of William S. W. Ruschenberger, a surgeon who at various times was president of the College of Physicians and of the academy. He donated it in 1857. The creature had a wingspan of at least two feet, and it weighed a half-pound when alive. In the paper, published in the journal American Museum Novitates, Helgen identified a second, even larger bat species in the collection of the Smithsonian.

There have been several such species found in museums over the last year, and a few months ago Richard Freeman gave a round up of others from the past few years. These discoveries, if nothing else, highlight why natural history museums are of such importance. But it seems that they may be on the way out.

A few weeks ago we were told:

My friend went to a Care of Collections meeting the other day in London where a lot of very important museum people were and rather worryingly the trend for museums getting rid of collections seems to be becoming more popular. (She said it seemed more like a 'don't care of collections meeting) In museums the natural history collections are always the first to go as many curators don't see the importance of them. Perhaps the CFZ could do something about how the nation's museums should be safeguarding these collections not considering binning them.

Although this also presents an opportunity if you are thinking of aquiring any specimens. Apparently Bristol is thinking of greatly downsizing its natural history collection. You could write to them with an offer to take some...

If the CFZ Museum had the storage resources I would certainly do that. But the most important thing that has to be asked is "Why, for God's sake?" The natural world is infinitely fascinating, and every child that we have met recently has been at least slightly interested in what we do. Many of them have been as obsessed as I was at that age.

Why do the powers that be insist on trying to stifle that interest at an early age? Because that's what it looks like. The Zoo Licensing people appear to do their best to close zoos down rather than to help them adapt to the changing needs of the 21st Century. But even here there are anomalies. Without mentioning any names, I know of two really good small zoos that have been closed down by these increasingly stringent committees, but another one, which really is a piece of crap, which has been allowed to stay open. A fourth zoo, whose only raison d'etre appears to be to preach Creationism to schoolchildren is flourishing. It is almost as if the Zoo Licensing people have their own agenda - and that it is an agenda which has nothing to do with either animal welfare or conservation. Like so much of present government legislation both in the UK and abroad it makes no sense at all, UNLESS one envisions some completely covert agenda.

And now the same thing is happening to museums. There are good ones (like RAMM in Exeter), but the overall trend is worrying. I really do not know what to do, but I do know that we need to do something.

Suggestions please....


The AMNH paper can be downloaded here:

NEIL ARNOLD: Black Dogs and Hairy Men

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....


I must admit that I was rather shocked to read that some of the more recent Black Dog sightings have been suggested as scarce. Read my MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: KENT and you’ll find several very recent phantom hound tales. My mother saw a small black dog whilst ill in bed with pleurisy a few years back. She was sitting up one evening when it appeared a few feet away on the chest of drawers. She blinked a few times and it remained, until it gradually faded from view. It was benign and had long, floppy ears. My book also mentions a 2001 encounter at Blue Bell Hill, involving a motorist and a white hound, which sped across the road causing the motorist to brake. There have also been some very recent sightings not far from Bluewater Shopping Centre of two seemingly spectral canids, which have caused one motorist to crash their vehicle, and others to get detailed glimpses of these wolf-like beasts. They appear very muscular, one having a dark ear, and are bigger than wolves. Investigations at the particularly dark stretch of road they haunt has drawn a blank regards to possible escaped pets.

There was an impressive sighting towards Ashford of a huge, black hound, seen by several passengers in a car one foggy night in the region of Tenterden. This was reported to Fortean Times magazine. I personally believe phantom hound reports, although not common, occur sporadically. Just a case of right place, right time…I’ve also numerous on record from London and Sussex, all of which took place in the last ten years.


Wouldham is a small village in Kent that sits right next to Blue Bell Hill, which for me, remains the country's weirdest village. In my book I noted several bizarre tales concerning witnesses who’d seen red-eyed man-beasts and very recently a lady, who now resides in Norfolk, contacted me to say that when she was a child growing up in the ‘60s at Wouldham, her grandmother used to tell her intriguing tales. One of these was said to date back to the 1920s and her grandmother, who passed away, made notes of this. The lady said that her grandmother used to tell her about the ‘hairy man’ of Wouldham. A humanoid often seen in local woods by children, and certainly adults were made aware of this being. It was completely covered in hair and the story had become embedded in her psyche and was triggered again when she purchased my MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: KENT and saw, at the front, an image of a hairy humanoid standing at Blue Bell Hill’s Kit’s Coty House, an ancient structure on the landscape. It’s clear to me that we aren’t dealing with tales of escaped monkeys, but indeed something very much embedded in the fabric of the place, as some kind of folkloric creature which has existed for possibly centuries. It seems as well that the more I write about the creature, the more it stirs up. Around 1997/’98 there was a report in the local newspaper of a gorilla-type creature seen at Blue Bell Hill, and I recall scoffing at the report and believed it was simply down to media drama. Now, it seems that there is, and always has been, a strange humanoid prowling the dark lanes and thickets of a place that I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid and my dad used to take me there and terrify me with tales of the phantom hitchhiker….

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday’s News Today

Yesterday’s News Today


Most Mondays on YNT are Movie Monday’s. How it works is this: I look around for a good film and when one comes to mind I scour the internet for a decent trailer. Once I’ve done that I post the link here and nobody clicks on it because nobody actually reads this bit and everyone just skips on to the latest cryptozoology news stories links and hopes that their eyes won’t fall upon the bad pun at the end. I might as well be posting up coordinates of where I hid the bodies or my secret superhero identity; no one would read it anyway. Anyway, let's test who’s actually paying attention and play a mean trick on those that are just skimming this: what follows is the worst film of all time. It’s a film that is so bad it even goes past the ‘so bad it’s good’ zone, which is a hard thing to do. It is played in a playlist in the deepest level of hell that includes ‘the league of extraordinary gentlemen’ and just about every Woody Allen film… it’s that bad. If you think you can think of a worse film then please post it in the coments section. I bet you won’t be able to though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7C8nHAAs70

And now the news:

seagull torments parish priest
The Red squirrel fight back against greys has begun, claim conservationists.
EPA: Monkey facility may need more permits
Prescott's lion finally loses to urban perils
£5,000 spent to move rare newts
Elephant carwash raises zoo cash
Moisturiser answers elephant call
Chuffed to see choughs
How flowers conquered the world

That’s flower power.


As Oll so rightly pointed out, this is one of his best three dimensional piccies, and I singularly failed to post it up yesterday on `Stereoscopic Sunday`.

So, here is a Caption Competition for this 3D picture of Spider the Orange Cat and a carving of a Mexican dragon god, that I smuggled back from Mexico back in the day. Over to You