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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Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Today`s blog features what was in 1912 thought to be a strange creature (see image) found in the grounds of Essex County Asylum in Colchester, of all places. I did a quick Google on this place but came up with nothing. It looks to my untrained eye a bit like a jerboa. I have posted the image on the Fortean Times online site. Someone told me it was an Irish gerboa, (I found the story in the Leitrim Observer for November 23rd 1912 whilst looking for mystery creatures in Ireland for Ronan Coghlan) and I believed him!! Daft, aren`t I?

The image was reproduced with permission from Irish Nespaper Archives, Leitrim Observer November 23rd 1912 http://www.irishnewsarchive.com/

The story raises a few questions – suppose it was a species new to science, would anyone have believed its owner if he/she was a patient in the asylum? If the animal was not a patient`s or nurses pet, how did it get there? Supposing a patient saw a Jersey-Devil-type creature, was not believed because he was mentally ill, but it turned out to be true??! Then there`s the whole folklore of crack-addicted squirrels, which apparently sometimes turn up in the grounds of psychiatric hospitals.

The text of the article in the Leitrim Observer is as follows:


The strange animal shown in our sketch was captured in the grounds of Essex County Asylum at Colchester. It resembles a young kangaroo both in its appearance and its actions. In colour it is like an ordinary rabbit. When disturbed it emits a sound which is for all the world like the grunt of a pig. Mr S. Usher, of Colchester, who took possession of the animal, finds it an excellent pet.(

So here do we have a kangaroo-like gerbil or a gerbil-like kangaroo? But what about the “grunting” sound? Any opinions as to what this could have been? Then there`s the rabbit-like colour, i.e grey?

Leitrim Observer November 23rd 1912.

The Stolen Child W.B.Yeats ( plus The Waterboys)

Come away,human child
To the water
Come away,human child
To the water and the wild
With a faery,hand in hand
For the world`s more full of weeping than you can understand

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we`ve hid our faery vats
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries,

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