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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Sunday, July 19, 2009

BIRD ATTACKS IN FALMOUTH BAY - We've been here before

At the beginning of the year, the good doctor telephoned me, and said that this was going to be a rather special year for those of us who have been watching the quasi-fortean events in southern Cornwall over the past third of a century.

And in a low key sort of way, it has been. Earlier in the year there were a spate of sightings of a strange bipedal mammal in the woods between Mawnan Old Church and Maenporth Beach, and so I was not particularly surprised when I received several notifications of a series of raptor attacks in the Helford passage. As anyone who has ever made a study of such things will know, we have been here before.

Watch this space, because the game is most definitely afoot....

NEIL ARNOLD: Tribute to Quentin Rose

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....

Quentin Rose is, rather sadly, rarely spoken about today. Here was a guy who on a full-time basis investigated reports of large exotic cats roaming the countryside. He was the best at what he did. And yet despite his investigations, he was ridiculed and also sneered at by many other ‘researchers’ across the field because of their jealousy. I think that maybe it was down to the fact that Quentin had the know-how as to track such animals; he had the experience, and an official say on the matter. Sadly, in October 2002, Quentin, who I’d begun to liase (I’d already done a few TV bits with him) with, passed away unexpectedly, and so, on one of my old websites I posted a small tribute to him. Thankfully, this was picked up by Quentin’s good friend Chris Bosley who sent me the below email a few years back, which I’ve now decided to release as a fitting tribute to the man.

‘Quentin and I were good friends for many years, sharing many common interests, including an almost theological zeal for the natural world. Many interesting conversations took place whilst walking the Malvern Hills. He successfully cured me of a spell of Buddhism on one such walk! We shot pistol and rifle together, he being a far better pistol shot and was actually a member of the British Practical Pistol National Squad for a time. I was, I am glad to say, a better rifle shot though. I knew his mother very well, a kind and tolerant woman who put up with quite a lot of Q's eccentricities, such as drying jerky on the living room radiators and curing rabbit and hare skins in the bathroom sink!
We shared some 'primitive' camping expeditions from time to time, both locally and in the Brecon Beacons. I have marvellous memories of those times. We used to use cotton bags soaked in lanolin to store food. These worked well, but imparted a certain flavour to the food! We both appreciated the work of 'Nessmuk' and his writings on lightweight camping at the turn of the 20th c. That's where the cotton bags and a lot of other primitive stuff came from. Some worked, some didn't! As you say, Q worked as a zoo keeper. He enjoyed his time with John Aspinall at Port Lympne, but did not enjoy some of the other parks and zoos he spent time at. His concern for the welfare of the 'inmates' led to a spell of work for Zoo Check, which pretty much blacklisted him from that line of work.
His time in Canada is especially interesting. He canoed along the North shore of lake Athabaska, pretty much living off the land, using a Savage combination rifle/shotgun and a telescopic fishing rod. He wrote home when he came to a settlement that could get post out, but managed to run out of writing paper, so sent the next letter on a piece of birch bark! Very Q! I still have the skinning knife and beaded sheath he brought back for me. He traded this with a Cree trapper for shotgun shells. His return trip was not so successful. Intending to spend a full winter trapping around Reindeer Lake. Although he learned much from the Indians and had some success, he met with a series of misfortunes, including a bad fall that temporarily lost him the sight of one eye. Seeing these mishaps as signs that he was not welcome there, he cut the trip short.
The trap design and the 'Rose Cuff ' occupied most of his latter years. I went on several trapping sessions with him to test the early prototypes on local foxes. I also assisted on several abortive attempts to trap a local big cat on an large estate between Tewkesbury and Worcester. Our bait consisted of some Lion dung and urine and a waterproofed (in a plastic bag) tape recorder emitting various recordings of lions. No success I'm afraid.
Q had several alter egos and several groups of friends all over the country. his brother lives in Dove dale and Q would disappear there from time to time. probably when the jerky making or canoe repair in the kitchen got to his mother! he also had a passion for the Northumbrian pipes and spent some time somewhere up North with a pipe maker. he returned with a set that he had made himself and proceeded to perform a competent rendition of a tune that I can no longer remember the name of. As you may be aware, Q was a chronic diabetic and this is certainly what contributed to his tragically early death. he often spoke of this illness and knew he would not make 'old bones' but refused to succumb to self pity and lived his own life. I was present at his funeral, which was a non religious outdoor celebration of his life. His father's eulogy was deeply touching. Each of his friends who wished to was invited to step forward and talk about their relationship with Q. I did my bit and at the end of the service placed the green leaf on his coffin.(If familiar with the philosophy of Grey Owl, you will understand that)

I sincerely thank you for the obituary. It was most unexpected and I am very grateful.
Good luck in your work.

Chris Bosley

After Quentin died his father contacted me and offered me the traps Quentin used to track large cats, but I was unable to get to Gloucestershire to pick them up. However, the TV footage I have of Quentin, and the advice he gave me is much treasured. R.I.P.


Robert, who is rapidly becoming an invaluable source for the most peculiar things, writes:

Hi Jon,

I just came across this article that appeared in the "Logansport (Indiana) Journal" on August 8, 1889, describing what sounds like a sort of "cat king".

Hope you can use it.





At the CFZ there are lots of things we like:

  • We like big animal-related art projects.

  • We like people who are terribly fond of their pets

  • We like people who over-react to things

So we LOVE this story...

Charlie Mayhew of Newburg loved his dog, Bud, in a big way; so big that upon Bud's death he commissioned a big memorial to Bud — a 19-foot-tall metal sculpture by Colgate artist Paul Bobrowitz. The sculpture was placed on Mayhew's 400 acre property Friday.

Good on 'im, we say


"On August 7, 2009, at 34 minutes and 56 seconds following midnight, the time and the date will be 12:34:56 07/08/09 - 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9. You won't live to see this happen again!"

Who pointed this out? None other than our old friend Geoff Ward, ex of the Western Daily Press, and now boss of a new and rather groovy looking website - click the link below..


The dreaded Slobber Mouth snake is native to North America, principally in a small region in western Kentucky and Tennessee. While it typically grows to be around 3 feet long, some have been caught that measure 5 feet in length. The Slobber Mouth Snake is also called the Spittoon or the Slick Fanged Wet Racer. However, these names now are quite archaic and are commonly heard among visitors from Devon. The Slobber Mouth gets its name from the incessant secretion of saliva. The saliva is poisonous but is sometimes harvested by perfume and airplane oil manufacturers.

The Slobber Mouth's diet consists of insects, rodents, and biscuits. It is often confused with the Corn Snake. There is the old Murray, Kentucky adage: “Red and white, take quick flight; red and orange…” (No one in Murray could come up with a word to finish the rhyme and it remains unfinished to this day.)

The Slobber Mouth is a pit viper that has been known to lure unsuspecting souls to pick it up and play with it. It oftentimes bites the lip of the victim. The only known cure from its bite is the amputation of an unaffected limb.


I have an appalling habit of swearing like a trooper in private, but I don't usually allow profanity on the blog as we are essentially a family organisation, and I want everyone of all ages and backgrounds to get into what we are doing. However, this time, I make an exception.

(Thanks to Beth for this)

GARY TAYLOR: Brief Moa Story..

I was touring New Zealand in late 2005 when the tour guide told me the following story.

A local farmer had caught and trapped a Moa, and had it contained in his garage. This news created a frenzy and all the locals wanted witness to the extinct bird. The media soon became caught up in all the frenzy (as they usually do). The farmer announced the time and date when he would unleash the Moa for all to witness.

The time approached and the farmer entered his garage. The media and locals were all gathered, cameras at the ready, when the garage door opened and the farmer emerged on his lawn Moa.

The prank was reputed to have created some bad press for the farmer.

I found the story quite amusing and it seemed to capture the quirkiness of the Kiwis. I'd forgotten that story until I read the article and I don't know how true it is. I have a very good friend that lives on the Kapiti Coast so I'm going to ask her if she's heard the story. New Zealand was a beautiful country; it reminds me of how this country could still have been.

ATILLA THE HEN: Yesterday's News Today


Oliver is still gallivanting around the fleshpots of Plymouth, doing whatever it is that a Welshman does when he goes to the big city. (Answers on a postcard please) so today, for one day, his column is being taken over by me, a conceptual chicken with a bad attitude.

Today is Stereoscopic Sunday (according to Oliver) but in his abscence I know that I can't produce 3D piccies of stuff around the CFZ mansion because after all, I am only a conceptual chicken and I also don't know how to work Oliver's 3D Camera thingy, because I do not have opposable thumbs.

So there.

Reference the third story from the bottom; I expect she has to `panda` to their every need. See Oliver, it isn't THAT difficult!