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, March 10, 2010

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today

On this day in 1942 Douglas Adams, author of The Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy, was born.

And now, the news:

Britain's 'big cat X files' revealed

Sad news from Paignton Zoo

Adders waking up from long winter sleep

I know a slightly long joke about snakes. As it is a wee bit long to post on this blog without producing an impenetrable wall of text I’ll link you to a website where it is already posted. I do recommend you read it, as it is one of the funniest jokes ever.

No skipping straight to the punchline either! - as, if you haven’t read the whole joke, it won’t make as much sense:


Liz plugs the Texas blog and makes a lame football pun

Well, it's almost been a week since Corinna and Jon departed this green and pleasant land for the land of the free. For those of you missing their posts on here, I hope you've been checking out their updates on the expedition blog.

In the meantime, good news is apparently afoot for the rare British red squirrel. Attempts to control the populations of aggressive grey squirrels in Aberdeen and Tayside, Scotland, have allowed the diminutive (the cute specimen in the photo is a baby) to regain lost territory.

The estimated population of reds in Scotland currently stands at 121 000.

Come on you reds!

MAX BLAKE: Natural England Dossier

First, a quick thanks to Dave Baldwin for highlighting this on Facebook.

The Telegraph reported on 6th March on a dossier released by Natural England (the public body responsible for protecting and improving England’s natural environment), which contained reports of over 100 exotic animals in England. The reports are from 2001 to 2007 and cover pretty much the whole of England. By far the most commonly reported exotics were Alien Big Cats, with wild boar a distant second. Some of my favourite species sighted are capybaras and racoon dogs in Reading, a coatimundi in Cumbria, a prairie dog in Buckinghamshire and a walleroo in Cornwall.

What amazes me is how few reports there are! Reports of both wild boar and ABCs seem to be miniscule in number compared to the number of sightings (and trace marks) that I am aware of. I’m sure that Neil Arnold’s book Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Kent has more reports of ABCs just in Kent than Natural England have had reported across the whole of England! There has to be some link in the chain missing between the person who has evidence for an animal and the governmental body in place to collect the reports. Someone with a better knowledge of the police force and government policy would know more than me about if the police have to report sightings reported to them to Natural England, or if Natural England only collects reports from the public if they contact Natural England specifically.

Anyway, you can read the whole dossier here, as well as the Telegraph’s coverage:



Three Owls Correspondence: Part One

The following are letters published in the Rochdale Observer Saturday edition (6th March 2010). The letters are published unedited.

Grey area in zoo rules.

As an invited consultee in the Animal Welfare Bill the issues pertaining to secondary legislation and seeing sanctuaries controlled under licence or registration was covered at a number of meetings I attended with DEFRA.

I raised the issues pertaining to wildlife Sanctuaries opening to the public with (DEFRA) stating in our consultation paper that we believed that wildlife rehabilitation centres/sanctuaries should not be open to the public and that sanctuaries should either work with domestic animals or wildlife as the two should not be kept in the same location.

It was considered that perhaps a Zoo licensing scheme would be too expensive and it looked favourable that sanctuaries would come under a registration scheme, although this still has to be put out for consultation.

So it is fair to assume I was greatly intrigued by reading a case where animal rights organisation Born Free had approached Rochdale Council about the status of the Three Owls sanctuary's license under the relevant legislation.

This enquiry from an animal rights group that has no connection to UK wildlife only that of a UK Shark survey, so it seemed strange as to why a bird sanctuary was picked out and the issue of as to whether it held a zoo licence.

A zoo is defined in the act as being 'an establishment where wild animals are kept for exhibition - to which members of the public have access, with or without charges for admission, on more than seven dates in any period of 12 consecutive months'.

Now this must be relevant to many sanctuaries across the UK and this apparent test case could well have compromised animal welfare and as this has brought about the closure of Three Owls surely this little known piece of Government legislation will undoubtedly see the closure of many more.

The Government need to immediately address this ridiculous issue and set the record straight.

As it appears that any animal sanctuary that opens to the public and allows visitors to see the animals needs a zoo licence and apparently this Act recognises the wide range of establishments by allowing dispensations to be granted for small zoos.

We have Animals in Need in Irchester, near Wellingborough that opens to the public and takes in wild animals and keeps both domestic animals and wildlife and could be seen as a risk in regard to spread of disease and if the 1981 act is enforced this will mean that all safety measures must be implemented such as guard rails installed along with guided tours in line with how a zoo works.

This has left a grey area concerning those that solely work within the realms of true wildlife rehabilitation and do not open to the public. There need
[sic] to be a clearly defined working practice so that it is one law for all and not picking on the individuals.

I had worked for over 45 years within the realms of avi-culture and wildlife rehabilitation and have never opened to the public. We handled in excess of 4000 animals a year and worked closely with many organisations and after reading the appalling actions of Born Free and red tape bureaucracy within the Government departments I am truly pleased we have ceased our work.


Safewings Wildlife Conservation Projects




Our heartfelt sympathies go to Dana Redfern on the sad passing of her step-mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Love Jon & Corinna, and all at the CFZ.