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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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Thursday, September 30, 2010

MIKE HALLOWELL: The day a hare went on trial

First, I must apologise to my legions of fans (Fred and Gertie Donkins from Peckham) for the long hiatus between my last blog and this one. I have been away from Casa Hallowell on an investigation which, I think, will soon be making headlines across the globe. More of this as it happens, so watch this space.

Anyway, back to business. Geordieland is an advanced kingdom, the laws of which appertain not just to humans but also to other species. Thus, a horse can be arrested for burglary and a blackbird for GBH. The fauna of our land are expected to follow the law just as we are, and woe betide a cocker spaniel who becomes drunk and disorderly or a donkey who fiddles its benefits. The full weight of Geordie jurisprudence will be applied no less severely to them as to farmers who ogle the bosoms of milkmaids or landlords who water down their ale.

To those who are sceptical, I would like to draw your attention to an incident which illustrates the point wonderfully.

On the morning of Sunday, September 25, 1836, a hare entered the village of Burnopfield. This in itself was not a crime back then, although hares, along with other animals, were expected to behave with a reasonable degree of decorum. Bulls were not allowed to impregnate cows within half a mile of the local church, for instance, and ducks were forbidden to quack before 10am on weekends. The hare, unfortunately, decided to throw civility to the wind and engage in some pranks which precipitated a fair degree of righteous indignation amongst the populace. Without warning, it leaped through the living room window of the local constable's house and wreaked pandemonium. A jug of milk was sent flying off the table, a plate of scones went crashing to the floor and – quelle horreur – it pooped in the baby's crib.

Fortunately the constable was at home at the time, and, according to The Local Records or Historical Register of T. Fordyce, he bravely confronted the beast and, after a considerable struggle, arrested it. Now this is where the story gets really interesting, for the hare was not just charged with one offence, but two. As well as facing a charge of criminal damage, the authorities also accused the creature of “indiscretion”. Indiscretion is a serious offence in Geordieland, and carries a minimum sentence of five years in jail.

Alas, we are not told the fate of the hare, or even whether the prosecution was successful, but the story stands as a salutary warning to animals who think they can just wander over the border into our territory and make mockery of our milk, scones and constables.

I am aware that some, particularly those who live in southern places like Sussex, will find this tale incredible. I would refer such ones to a certain Mr. Steve Jones, who will, I am sure, testify that he supplied me with the ancient tome upon which this blog is based.

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