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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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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MYSTERY DEATHS: Richard Muirhead looks into the archives

Folks,

Whilst looking for unusual animal stories involving animals in Israel/ Palestine I came across the following event, as reported in the Palestine Post for April 2nd 1934. Granted, it is the day after April Fools Day but I still think it is worth recording:

Strange Animal Deaths Continue

I mentioned last week the mysterious poisonings of birds over Dorset. More birds have been found mysteriously poisoned and over 400 cases have now come to light. In addition to rooks, magpies, and jackdaws which have fallen, cats, a dog and a fox are among the victims. A farm hand said that the fox was a pitiful sight. It crept into the farm yard, collapsed and died. Captain Kent, who rents the shooting at Melcombe Horsey, said that with the police he had collected 214 bodies of birds. When out shooting he saw 50 birds fall in ten minutes. He believed they were poisoned by strychnine, as they died so quickly. Mr Vincent spoke of the danger to hounds unless all the bodies were collected, as the poison would remain in the bones for six months.

Mr Julius Caesar ( ? O.K. maybe it is a hoax, but I can`t be 100% sure!) a chemist in the county, said: "If the birds are being poisoned by agricultural poison the mystery should soon by (sic) cleared up. The principal poisons used in agriculture are antimony, strychnine, arsenic and hellebore. This is not the season for their general use for ground dressing. Poisons used for the destruction of vermin are strychnine and phosphorous.”

Dorset Police have issued a warning which runs:

“Following an analysis of one of the rooks found dead in the Melcombe Horsey district it has been revealed that the body contained a deadly poison. People are asked not to eat any dead bird found in the area.” An official of the R.S.P.C.A. in London said that the Society was conducting an investigation in conjunction with the Dorset Police. (1)

Now, if this is not an April Fools Day joke, it is interesting because it may not be a straightforward case of animal poisoning. Sometimes animals do die suddenly for no apparent reason, as will be seen in Part Two.

Whale You Be My Valentine

I know it's a little late but I only received this cutting yesterday. Apparently, this beluga whale and his chums in China's Polar Land marine theme park have been taught by their trainers to blow shaped bubbles. Goodness knows how. The one in the picture was intended for original display at a Valentine's Day performance at the park. One wonders, since February 14th was also the beginning of the Chinese new year of the tiger, if any of these beautiful 'sea canaries' were taught to blow a bubble of the orange and black Shere Khan. Now, that I would love to see....