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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In between each episode of OTT, we now present OTTXtra. Here are the last three episodes:


Click on this logo to find out more about helping CFZtv and getting some smashing rewards...


Unlike some of our competitors we are not going to try and blackmail you into donating by saying that we won't continue if you don't. That would just be vulgar, but our lives, and those of the animals which we look after, would be a damn sight easier if we receive more donations to our fighting fund. Donate via Paypal today...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Hi Jon,
I always thought a Sarcastic Fringehead was a Fortean Times reader; turns out to be a fish too.


MATT WILLIAMS SENT THIS WITH THE CAPTION "Who Says People don't make crop circles?"

A 30-acre (12-hectare) field of maize in York has been cut out in the shape of a Spitfire to commemorate this year's 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.


As the keen-eyed amongst you will know, Corinna and I are appearing at the FT Unconvention this October.

David Sutton wrote to all the prospective speakers last week ask for promo pictures, and - to our amazement - we found that although there are lots of pictures of us, very few ones of us together as a couple exist apart from our wedding photos. So we tried to take some over the weekend, but the whole exercise descended swiftly into silliness...


Report by Dr. David Ford
Photographs as credited
Held at the Old Malton Memorial Hall in Malton, North Yorkshire, on Sunday 11th July, the Ryedale Aquarist Society held their 25th Anniversary Day. This was more than an Open Show because the philosophy of Ryedale AS is “The little club with a big heart”. There were ‘Mini-Open Shows’ for special entries, such as Ladies Day (AV fish owned by a lady) and Dastardly & Mutley (unusual fishes, not normally seen on the show bench). There was also a craft competition with photographs and miniature models.
This beautiful Synodontis, well cared for by Bede Kerrigan of STAMPS, is a hybrid cross between S. decorus and S. pardalis ‘Czech variant’. He went home as the first fish to win a Dastardly & Mutley Class in the U.K. Photograph by David Marshall

The BCA (British Cichlid Association) had a Mini-Open Show with 4 classes. They also had an information stand at the Show. David Armitage of AAGB (Anabantoid Association of Great Britain) had a stand with aquarium fish on display and Fishphilosophy had a retail stand. David Marshall displayed the covers of, and posters about, Aquarium Gazette CD magazine but was too busy rushing around to have a proper stand on the day.

David Armitage manning the AAGB stand. Photograph by David Marshall.

Dr David Ford of Aquatic Services gave a talk on ‘How a Goldfish changed my Life’. He also helped judge the Open Show events, along with an FNAS ‘A’ Class Judge (John Cowan) and a YAAS ‘A’ Class Judge (Steven Grant) who pointed the 71 entries. Ian and Mary Fairweather judged the popular craft class. Steve Jones of the European Anabantoid Club then auctioned many items to an appreciative audience.

Dr. David Ford holds the winning photograph - a beautiful portrait of a Pseudocrenilabrus specie taken by Dave Hallam of Sheaf Valley A.S.. Photograph by David Marshall.

Auctioneer Steve Jones has the help of Ryedale members Richard Hebden, Mark Lyons, Frank Tolomeo and Henry Hallsworth. Photograph by Dr. Ford.

The main fish competition was a special ‘Ryedale 25th Anniversary Championship’ which was won by an unusual fish: Electris vittatus which is actually a family pet called George, by the owner, Phil Blackburn of Sheaf Valley AS.

A14 - ‘George’ the Electris vittatus, Winner of the 25th Anniversary Competition. Three YAAS, two TTAAFBAS and one FNAS ‘A’ Class Judges had their pointing scores averaged to find the Competition winner. Photograph by Dr. Ford

In the BCA Mini-OS the highest pointed fish was a magnificent Neolamprologus daffodil, an African Cichlid owned by John Douthwaite of STAMPS (South Tyneside Aquatic Marine & Pondkeeper Society).

The aptly named Daffodil Cichlid was the top-pointed fish in the Cichlid OS. Photograph by Dr. Ford.

And finally Steve Jones, whom is always ‘collared’ to hand out the prizes at Ryedale events, seen here with the 25th Anniversary Fish winner Phil Blackburn of Sheaf Valley. Organiser and Ryedale Events Secretary David Marshall is on the left...who is to be congratulated on organizing a successful 25th Anniversary Show. Photograph by Dr. Ford.


A year or so ago Alan Friswell, the bloke who made the CFZ Feegee Mermaid and also the guy responsible for some of the most elegantly macabre bloggo postings, wrote me an email. He had an idea for a new series for the bloggo. Quite simply, he has an enormous collection of macabre, fortean, odd and disturbing magazine and newspaper articles, and he proposed to post them up on the bloggo.

It could be reasonably argued that there are simply too many UFOs about these days. A quick look at YouTube will reveal dozens of seemingly authentic videos featuring what appear to be extraterrestrial craft skimming through the skies of every locale from the Hackney marshes to the Great Barrier Reef. The problem is, of course, can any of these images be truly proven as the ‘real’ thing? In an age of CGI ubiquity, you can barely trust your own reflection, for fear that some dastardly and erstwhile Photoshopper hasn’t been in there to tweak your pixels.So in memory of the good old days, when a fake photo had to be done the hard way, here’s an vintage article about UFOs as they used to be. Plus--bumper-bonus time--one of my fake UFOs. Can you figure out how it was done? I can guarantee that no computers or digital FX were employed in its creation.



Our good friend Beth Tyler-King from Hartland Wildlife Rescue was on the TV the other day, and through the magick of the internet her interview is available online...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1799 the Rosetta stone was discovered in Egypt.
And now, the news:

Badger cull in Wales quashed in the Court of Appea...
Elephant takes lizard for a ride
Bangkok to fine people for elephant feeding
Llama drama on German motorway
Man sings song to sharks for some reason
Alligator bites man's hand off, man gets hand back...

Let’s spin the wheel of cheese and find out what song we get today, don’t worry it might be a good one (the last two were, after all):



July 14th 2010 is the second annual International Donj Day, where cat lovers (and non-lovers) around the globe must celebrate Orange Cats and their gingery marmaladeness.

Before anyone points out the obvious, I am aware that July 14th is also Bastille Day in France. July 14th is also the birthday of my good friend Aurelia and we manage to celebrate that, so I'm sure we can manage to celebrate National Donj Day as well.

Happy birthday Aurelia, by the way, and happy Bastille Day to the French.

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.

According to the poet T.S. Eliot in 'Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats', all cats must have three different names. The first is a sensible everyday name, the second is a name that must never belong to more than one cat, and the third is known by the cat and the cat alone.

My 11-year-old ginger cat is unusual in that he is far more commonly known by the second of these names, with his 'everyday' name now being used only occasionally. His everyday name is Orange Cat, although his 'proper' name is Spider McGraw.

So, why National Donj Day? What is Donj and what has it to do with the Orange Cat? Basically, after a time Orange Cat became the French 'Chat d'Orange'; this was later shortened to just 'd'Orange' and subsequently bastardised to 'Donj'. The Orange Cat is certainly a character. He is one of those cats whose pride is precious to him, to such an extent that if he falls off the arm of the chair during a nap, he will feign sleep and pretend that he 'did it on purpose'. He will also beg for food under the table like a dog and loves crisps and cake*.

I managed to blame the Orange Cat for breaking the bathroom light in our old home for several months, and I think to this date I have got away with it (although now my deceit will clearly be uncovered). Bored one evening, I picked up the Orange Cat and placed him carefully on a small shelf mounted on the wall near the doorway of our bathroom. Of course, shortly afterwards he jumped down, somehow catching the cord of the light-switch as he went and damaging the mechanism in the ceiling. I pretended he'd done it by himself and that I'd had nothing to do with it. We all had to shower in darkness for months. I think he should share at least some of the blame.

He makes his living in Hollywood, although we have yet to see a penny of the rewards. ** The biggest roles to date are probably as 'Puss in Boots' in the Shrek films and as the infamous 'Garfield', although several bit parts have also helped make his name and he can often be seen popping up in films and on television. Of course, marmalade fame runs in the family. An ancestor was the feline star of Breakfast at Tiffany's alongside Audrey Hepburn, and other family members appeared as Data's cat 'Spot' in the television series of Star Trek and 'Jones' in the movie Alien. But orangery is not a phenomenon limited to this household alone.

A very brief scan through Google produces a plethora of sites dedicated to Orange Cats, including: · an entire group on the photo-sharing site Flickr, · a blog belonging to Jeff the Giant Orange Cat (under the name of http://www.whatjeffkilled.com/),· a page entitled 'I have a problem with Orange Cat peeing in my bed?' which, I must state, is nothing to do with our particular Orange. In fact, the world's love of carrot-topped cats does not stop there. Google also reveals a cafĂ©, a wedding photography service and even a carnival glass dealer, all named after Orange Cats. So show your support for National Donj Day and let's celebrate orangery in all its glory, for without Orange Cats the world would surely be a much duller and less colourful place!

*This is of course a presumed love backed up by no hard evidence whatsoever, since no self-respecting vet would ever feed their cat crisps or cake.

** EDITOR'S NOTE: The Orange cat also works as chief typesetter of CFZ Press. If you have any of the books we have produced since the summer of 2007, have a gander at the title information page. Orange Cat invariably appears. But beware: He can take many guises....