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:


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Wednesday, September 08, 2010



I am very aware, in fact it could be said that I am painfully aware, that although our book publishing schedule is going ahead at a rate of knots, our publishing schedule for magazines has completely fallen by the wayside. Furthermore, I am only too aware that one of these magazines – Animals & Men – is not only behind schedule, but is what members receive as the main part of their membership.

In the next week or so we will be making a major announcement about the status of the CFZ. I know that sounds ominous but it isn’t. The CFZ will continue – hopefully – for many years to come, and we shall be continuing to publish both our magazines indefinitely. However, we hope that these changes to the CFZ will – in the medium term at least – improve our cash flow, which is the main reason that our magazines have not appeared as regularly as we would like.

The other reason is simply because with the bloggo taking up 50 news stories a week, and occasionally more, it is sometimes difficult to keep up 2 traditional hard copy publications as well. I am only writing this because I want you to be aware that we are aware of the situation, and are doing our best to rectify it. Please bear with us, I would say that things can only get better, but the last person to use that catchphrase was Tony Blair in 1997 and we would like to assure you that no matter how much we cock things up, we ain’t going to do it as disastrously as he did.



The other day when at the height of my recent bout of my usual irritating illness I was sitting in my office dictating an article about dragonflies to my poor long-suffering better half. As always seems to be the case when I am feeling ill - and I must admit sorry for myself - I started thinking about my childhood long ago in a galaxy (or rather British Crown colony) far away. After having finished dictation dear Corinna went back into the dining room, which is where she and her pet cane toad, Mog, conduct their activities, and left me (still feeling sorry for myself) to my own devices.

For the first time in a while I started pootling about on Google Earth and I found, to my absolute amazement, that there is now a facility whereby one can zoom in and click on a camera symbol and see detailed photographs of streets and roads. Of course, the first thing that I did was to zoom in and look at Back Street, Woolsery and to my amusement, saw the brass plaque on the wall, which announces the position of the Centre for Fortean Zoology; and even my old jaguar, before we had it scrapped last winter, was parked at the bottom of the hill outside what used to be Marjorie Braund’s house (until she died last December). Then, on a whim, I went to the other side of the globe and zoomed in on Hong Kong island.

Much to my amazement and I have to say, almost overwhelming emotional gratification, I managed to find my old school. I managed to locate the garages where every winter the itinerant cobbler Ping Kee sold Christmas trees, and even followed the course of the road which I used to walk to school, along which I would often be side-tracked by watching lizards, and be late for registration.

This got me thinking. The bloggo is doing rather well at the moment and for the last month we have had between 2,000 and 3,000 hits each day, and sometimes more. Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to think I am bragging about this; we have had periods like this before and no doubt, numbers will continue to fluctuate up and down like they have in the past. However, according to the map so kindly provided by Bravenet (who host our hit-counter), we quite regularly have people visiting the website from Hong Kong, and if you are reading this, you Hong Kong people, could you possibly do me a favour?

There are places at the top of Victoria Peak where – for a number of reasons – the mobile camera cars of those jolly nice people at Google are unable to go. I have been unable to find photographs of these places on the internet and would be very grateful if – partly because I need them for one of the books I am currently writing, and partly for reasons of emotional nostalgia – I would like to obtain some photographs of them. Just in case you are thinking that I am going to be wanting you to go wandering for days into the wilds of the Sai Kung peninsular, at least at first, all the places are within half a mile of each other, and easily accessible on Victoria Peak. Please email on jon@eclipse.co.uk if you feel that you can help.


For those of you who wish for me to provide some insight into cryptozoological lives, I very kindly decided to interview one Mr Richard Freeman. Hi, Richard! Yes, this is all about you so I hope you enjoy it. If I do a Rita Skeeter on you then don’t worry; it’s all part of my business....

Name: Richard Freeman
Connection with the Weird Weekend: Involved ever since he began playing the role of zoological director
Why he began doing things for the CFZ: He was involved in 1994 on Bodmin Moor. He had a museum break and spied the magazine Animals & Men. Eventually, Richard started articles for the magazine. He was that good he became the Yorkshire representative; afterwards Freeman took a full-time CFZ job which leads him to where he is now.
Favourite cryptozoological author/s: Janet and Colin Bord
Cryptozoological interest: The Doctor Who 1970s monsters were deemed scary, even more so because of the fact they were on Earth. Richard took note of this, but instead of thinking of imaginary monsters, real ones entered his mind instead.
Most amazing place interest has taken subject to: Mongolia to track down the Mongolian deathworm. Huge deserts were spread out in front of the group; some rocky places were scattered around. Richard was struck by how alien and unfamiliar it seemed.


UNIDENTIFIED Flying Objects, evidence of a big cat in the woods and a visit from a famous explorer were all highlights of the Weird Weekend held at Woolsery Sports and Community Hall.

Read on

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1945 Mike the headless chicken became headless after he was decapitated; previously he had just been known as Mike and had he not been made headless, or indeed been killed in the process, he would probably never have became famous and toured America.
And now, the news:

Alien 'killer' shrimp found in UK (Via Carl Portma...
Hump-backed dinosaur may yield clues to origin of ...
Endangered species finding a new home in South Yor...
When Species Are About to Become Extinct: New Rese...
Gopher tortoises are a protected species in Florid...
Fish regurgitation circus act banned in Australia

They've had their 'chips', I really 'fish' people wouldn't do such cruel things to animals, they must be 'eel' in the head or something.


A very Happy Birthday to my darling Godson Greg who is 12 today. Greg is best known to bloggofolk as being my right hand man, and microphone runner at the WW and star of this short film clip....


Dear Lizzy, who - as her health and her internet access improves - is rapidly becoming my hawk-eyed blog sherriff (that sounds like a song by Joanna Newsom, whose new album is - by the way - absolutely outstanding) wrote to me this morning:

Haven't checked YouTube but the following vids have disappeared from the blog for some reason:


I am putting them back up again, but has anyone any (sensible) ideas as to how and why they have gone?


Tony Shiels sent this through yesterday. It appeared in the Western Morning News last week. Click on it to expand it so you can read it.


After trying to bribe officials of other countries to back their sick little games and gearing up to kill and capture dolphins, Japan has enacted another atrocity. Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki, who exposed widespread corruption in the Japanese whaling industry, were given a one-year suspended sentence. At the same time, the criminals behind the whale meat embezzlement walked free.

The politically motivated and unjust sentence has brought the eyes of the world once again on Japan and its treatment of cetaceans.

The pair intercepted one of numerous boxes of whale meat embezzled from the whaling programme as evidence. These boxes were taken for private use by the crew of the Nisshin Maru whaling ship in violation of the whaling programme's regulations, and this amounts to a misuse of public funds.

After two years of living under bail conditions, Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were convicted with trespass and theft. It seems that animal welfare, democracy and free speech mean little these days in Japan, especially when money is involved.

Junichi said... "While the court acknowledged that there were questionable practices in the whaling industry, it did not recognise the right to expose these, as is guaranteed under international law. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on which our defence was based, supersedes domestic criminal law, but the judgment did not properly take this into account."

Japan has already drawn criticism from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention for its treatment of Junichi and Toru, and as Professor Dirk Voorhoof, an international law expert and defence witness in the case, said...

"This conviction is very likely to earn Japan more criticism for its failure to respect its obligations under international human rights law."

Vigils are being held at Japanese embassies around the world and hundreds of thousands of people have already signed a Greenpeace petition calling for justice. The case has already been taken up by Amnesty International, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and by celebrities like Bryan Adams and Benicio Del Torro.

The good that will come of this is that the international community and lay-people all over the world will see the corruption, spinelessness and downright cowardice of the Japanese courts - people totally without honour.
Industry whistleblowers have continued to speak with Japanese media about corruption and wrongdoing in the whaling industry, and interest in the story keeps growing. In the last fortnight articles in major newspapers such as Tokyo Shimbun and Kyodo have covered the issue. Japanese journalists are growing more and more interested in the corruption and underhandedness in what is a tax-funded industry.

You can help the Tokyo Two by telling the Japanese foreign minister just how disgusted you are at the corruption in Japan’s courts.


DALE DRINNON: "Galapagos" tortoises in China

A while back there was a posting to the CFZ blog on the supposition that giant tortoises were brought back during a supposed Ming Dynasty circumnavigation of the Earth. I did not know what they were talking about at the time, but I think I know better now.

The supposition that the Chinese were aware of giant tortoises is based on statures of Dragon Turtles in Bejing (Peking) and elsewhere, and Dragon Turtles are traditional auspicious Chinese legendary creatures. They do not mean the same thing as the Black Warrior Tortoise of the North, which is a constellation. Looking at the depictions of the Dragon turtles you can see that the heads are vaguely shaped like a Galapagoes tortoise (Freely interpreted to add "Dragonlike" features such as whiskers) and the long neck is similar. BUT there are Tortoises nearly as large and of much the same anatoomy at the Aldabara Islands near Madagascar, and while it is theory that the Ming Chinese made it to the Galapagoes Islands, it is on the other hand a plain fact that we know the Ming Chinese reached East Africa and Madagascar. Their distinctive china is found all over the place.

Besides that much, there used to be many other islands with giant tortoises, including some islands of Indonesia. And at one point cryptid Giant Tortoises could well have co-existed with humans in India and China-old Greek records imply that much. So there are any number of alternative candidates that would be more likely than the Galapagoes giant tortoises, with a favoritism on Aldabara ones (But not discounting the possibility that the Chinese also knew of such tortoises on Madagascar or any of a number of other places. Chinese were fond of drawing Dragon Tortoises all over their maps in the spirt of "Here There Be Dragons")

Best Wishes, Dale D.


My dear Corinna,

Sterling effort for the first photo. Alas it is not a Jay so you can’t (yet) have a cleverness badge. I must admit that these photographs were sent to me by a very close friend so I am unable to tell you what the box is in the photo. Looks like a thermostat (which I am sure you deduced) but can’t be sure. It was not taken at my place but in a zoo/gardens.

No more clues...

Here’s your second photograph and you have one guess. GO FOR IT CORINNA.

Dear Carl,

Not a jay? Just testing you there. After seeing the little fella grown up a bit, I am now plumping for a bird of prey of some description. It has the look of a hunter about it so will go for.....(pulls name out of hat) ........a ..... no that won't do (I have no idea who put that piece of paper in there with 'orange cat' written upon it - must have been Biggles) .....wait a bit (pulls another name out)..... yes... I know ...a kite. Just a small badge will do by the way - doesn't have to have flashing lights adorning it or anything like that - although a little bit of ribbon will be just dandy - but not pink.

Love from Corinna

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1872 infamous liar and owner of the tallest hat in Wisbech, Lord Reginald Elroy-Ponsenby, saw a wasp and tried to raise the alarm. Unfortunately non of the local population believed his wild claims, due to his 'infamous liar' status, and they paid his warning little heed and continued to go about their daily life unaware of the tragedy that was to befall the town. By the end of the day the wasp had made it's way into a local bakers shop where it buzzed around the sticky buns and the pink fingers before nearly stinging the Lord Mayor. The Lord Mayor was so embarrassed by the incident that he immediately resigned and the town has been without a Lord Mayor ever since. Of course the only surviving source of this story is Lord Reginald Elroy-Ponsenby's memoirs, so it could be untrue.
And now, the news:

NOAA designates the eastern North Pacific basking ...
Peterborough man catches monster fish in Wisbech S...
Gulf of Mexico oil spill threatens seahorse specie...
Reopen investigation into Chinese version of the Y...
Polar Bear Sighted In Manitoba Far South Of Normal...
Meet the first man to catch 1,000 different specie...