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 three episodes pretty much at random:


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...

Friday, February 25, 2011

HARRIET WADHAM: I like donkeys now! :)

I like donkeys now!

On August 11th 2010, I was escorted, along with my good friend Luke, to the
Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon, where we were to be filmed for an episode of Dick and Dom Go Wild! When we arrived after a journey full of nervous butterflies fluttering around in our tummies, we were associated with a couple of helpers. We then walked to what that day would be our base to have a little snack and some lunch.

After our small chow-down we set out to meet our presenter for this day. Out of Dick and Dom, the latter was filming somewhere else. I don’t quite know where. Oh well. So Dick was our friendly host.

Before we actually went to the Donkey Sanctuary I never really liked donkeys that much, but, as the title suggests, I now think that they’re quite cool. But anyway, the tasks performed by Luke and I were, in order:

1. Prepare breakfast for Laurel and Hardy - no, they’re donkeys too.
2. Make a yummy jam sandwich for Copper the donkey. I, yet again, can’t remember the name.
3. Dress a wound on Copper’s leg.
4. And to top it all off, we helped to shower a vixen. Nah, kidding! She was a donkey. (Regrettably, they didn’t feature the washing of the donkey in the actual episode. Never mind, eh?)

Unfortunately, we had to keep re-shooting certain scenes of the programme (just to get it right) and to tell the honest truth, it sometimes got a little bit tedious- but that’s life in the limelight for you. So who am I to complain?
Nobody, really.
To conclude, one would desire to express their pleasure at the simply splendid goodie bags they received. Inside were some leaflets, stationery and one’s most desirable gift of all was a knitted donkey toy, munificently knitted by the hands of- okay, I’m giving up the posh talk. Anyway, my favourite gift had to be the donkey toy. On the way home Luke and I fought with them. Don’t worry, they aren’t that damaged… sort of… But the most important part was that I had a lot of fun being filmed and I most definitely look forward to the time when (hopefully, anyway) I’m next on TV!!J
By the way, in my boyfriend [Danny]’s maths class at school, the evil people think I don’t exist. They think I’m an imaginary obese hamster. Hamsters are cool, anyway! So do I look like an imaginary obese one? NO. Please comment on my blog (yay) to prove them WRONG!
By the way, if any of you evil maths people do chance to see this, please note that I doubt we are going to be friends in future.

Now whom are you to encroach upon mine own infinite faculty?
Hamsters, however cool they are, couldn’t write that..





The other day we posted an article `The Shameful Shell Game` which originally appeared in HerpDigest. The latest edition of HerpDigest includes the following letter:

Some Correction and Opinions on the Article "The Shameful Shell Game" From Mark Feldman of New Zealand. (Editor-Mr. Feldman is a turtle researcher who has lately been doing a lot of research on the chemical inducement to turtle egg-laying. He has been apply to do this research with the help of the Turtle Farms mentioned in the article who supply him with turtles and space to do set up his lab. If this makes him a biased or expert who can respond to the errors, and there were errors, is us to you, the reader.)

Dear HerpDigest,

Just recently HerpDigest published an article called the "Shameful Shell Game." Many facts in the article were outdated and there were errors of interpretation as well.

1. ".there are 80 turtle farms in Louisiana alone." There were actually 48 farms still in business in early 2010 but probably less now because they are going out of business at a rapid rate. They are going out of business because the Chinese are purchasing fewer turtles each year as the build up their breeding stock and compete directly with the American farms. American turtle farmers that took out bank loans to enter the "boom" during the 1980s-early 1990s when the Chinese were buying hatchlings for over a dollar each (price now around 20 cents) have suffered the most. The older farms, with no loans and a wealth of experience have done better.

2. ".these farms are not self sufficient and thousands of adult sliders are removed from the wild each year to replace senile breeding stock."

The situation is actually that there is a glut of breeding stock. This is why a shipment of 40 tons of ADULT red-ears was sent to Vietnam this year. (Editor-Which Vietnam refused and send back to the U.S.- Sliders are illegal to export to Vietnam and condition of turtles was unacceptable.) These turtles were breeders from the USA that were surplus and no longer wanted. The decline in the industry and bankruptcy of the farms has resulted in the release of many thousands of adult breeders and the butchering of others for food to be sold in the Chinese communities in NY and California.
Turtles do not become "senile." They breed into old age. I have seen thousands of animals that have been on farms for over 40 years and are still laying several clutches a year.
Turtles are resourceful animals and escape frequently from turtle farms. If you tour wild areas around the farms you will note large numbers of turtles on the roadsides during nesting season. It is true that these animals do have the potential to alter the genetic pool of the local turtles. Whether this is more than an academic problem remains to be seen.

"Today over 200,000 farmed pet turtles continue to be sold in this country each
year and nearly ten million are shipped to international pet markets."

The legitimate trade in over 4 inch farmed turtles in the USA is about 60,000 per year. Annual exports of hatchlings vary widely. Using the LEMIS date (which is the best we have but not really accurate) there were 14.8 million exports last year but almost 2/3 of those were for the food trade in Asia, not for pets. (Editor-Question where did those 14.8 million turtles come from the farms or wild, as their is a large business in catching wild turtles and sending them to China according to Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity).

4. "Eggs taken from the wild be hatched and the young will be sold in any number of venues."

Taking eggs from the wild is seldom worthwhile. Such eggs need to be gathered within the first 24 hours or after three weeks to avoid mortality. It is far more efficient to use farmed animals where the hatching rate is 85%. Hatchling turtles that end up being sold illegally in the USA almost always come from back-yard farmers that produce a thousand hatchlings or less a year. No big farmers would risk their business to get involved in this illegal trade.

5. "The IUCN lists this turtle among the 100 most dangerous."

This is true but ill deserved. Red-ears are NOT super turtles. Like any other animal they have strict requirements in order to survive and reproduce. Buddhist countries like Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam buy large numbers of hatchlings to be released during religious ceremonies. This has to cause problems; if you release a million hatchling red-ears a year there's bound to be an effect even if they can't reproduce or survive for very long.

6. "They are on every continent..and even islands like New Zealand, the Bahamas and Cuba now support feral populations of red-eared sliders."

There are no reproducing feral populations of red-ears in New Zealand. Adults that are released can survive for a few years but inevitably die from shell disease and starvation because our winters are too warm and summers too cool. There are tiny areas north of Brisbane, Australia where the environment is more suitable for red-ears and they may reproduce there in artificial impoundments. However, the bulk of the country is too dry for the eggs to hatch. This is why Australian turtles have hard shelled eggs.

There are areas in Europe (Southern France) where red-ears can reproduce and do compete to variable degrees with the native pond turtle but there are many other areas in Europe where that is not the case. Again, red-ears are not super turtles; they usually end up surviving the longest in ponds in parks and where local turtle populations have been extinguished already.

7. "When the European Union banned the importation of red-eared sliders the turtle farmers circumvented this and cross-bred them with yellow bellied sliders and shipped their customized, genetically designed young turtles to Europe."

There's some truth here. With the ban of red-ears in the EU, American turtle farmers began exporting yellow-bellied and cumberland sliders. These animals do interbreed with red-ears and crosses are produced but it is not purposeful since the pure bred yellow bellied and cumberland sliders can be legally imported into the EU anyway. Most farmers isolate their cumberlands and yellow bellies from the red-ears because they are of higher value in the pet trade.

"Based on the hybrid swarms of hatchling map turtles produced and sold by turtle farmers we know that Graptemys readily hybridize."

It is true that map turtles interbreed on turtle farms (they can even produce off-spring with red-ears) but it is also true that they interbreed in the wild.

The real issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not people are going to be allowed to keep turtles as pets. If we want to have a society where people can have pet turtles, than turtle farms are the most efficient way to produce them. On a farm 85% of the eggs are hatched successfully but in the wild less than 5% of the eggs survive long enough to make it to the water. A well run turtle farm requires no additions to the adult stock since they can produce their own breeders in 4-5 years at very little additional expense. Breeders taken from the wild require 2-3 years to acclimate to the captive environment of a turtle farm and lay few, if any, eggs in that time. So farmers have little to lose by breeding their own stock.

The state of Louisiana has developed a protocol to prevent the transmission of salmonella via hatchling turtles. It is very effective. However, it does not prevent a pet turtle from getting salmonella from the food (raw chicken) it is fed or proximity to other pets (chickens, donkeys, cows, etc). Recent attempts to eliminate salmonella from chicken eggs in the USA may help to solve this problem.

It would be a real shame if young people could not keep pet turtles. I'm sure that all of us had herps as pets when we were young and that has added a great deal to the quality of our lives. It is my view that we should ban the wholesale capture of wild turtles throughout the United States and support active turtle farming so we can do as little damage to the natural populations as possible.

Mark Feldman
Kerikeri, New Zealand



About 3 weeks ago I came across an ale brewed at Cheshire`s Tatton Brewery, at a Sunday morning market in Macclesfield, with the endearingly cryptozoological title Yeti, subtitled `Stomp out the chill.` So I bought a bottle and drank it shortly afterwards.

The website says:

•Tatton Best Tatton Gold and YETI are now available in bottles direct from the brewery. We'll be updating the website with retail outlets in the coming weeks.

•Our new Winter Brew YETI has been receiving many compliments. Its 4.5% abv, A rich fireside copper-coloured winter ale with a distinctive warming flavour and classic British hop aroma. Let's hope our Yeti really can - STOMP OUT THE CHILL. http://www.tattonbrewery.co.uk/

I have been asked to point out by Tatton Brewery that Yeti is a Winter ale and that it will not now be available till October, but the last Sunday market in Macclesfield, i.e March 27th will have their Spring ale. Come on, Cheshire cryptozoologists, support your local crypto-friendly brewery!!


Sometimes you get something that really cannot be beaten.

Cthulhu mythos as imagined by kids As Richard Freeman said when he wrote to be telling of this fantastic project: "This is absolutely ACE"


OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


On this day in 1946 people in Finland started to report thousands of sightings of a type of Unidentified Flying Object dubbed 'ghost rockets.' It is still up for debate as to what was responsible for the sightings, although meteorites seem to be the most likely explanation.
More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_rockets
And now the news:

Walking cactus discovered in China
Panther sightings have residents freaked, experts ...
Brazilian woman finds alligator behind sofa
Physics of Burrowing Sandfish Revealed (via Herp D...
Fox lived in the Shard skyscraper at London Bridge...

If you follow the VRV's (Vaguely Related Videos) I post at the end of YNT (which is pronounced 'yint' in case you wondered) you might have seen this one before:

AMERANTHROPOIDES LOYSI: Dead monkey on a stick or bona fide cryptid? Dale Drinnon investigates..

Part One
Part Two
Part Three


There is some confusion as to exactly how many large unknown primates there are in South America, going by the information as given in standard Cryptozoological sources. Two of the reported forms are Mono Grande (Big Monkey) commonly reported in Colombia, Venezuela, Northwestern Brazil abd then the Eastern jungles of Ecuador and Peru, and then again Mono Rey (King Monkey) as reported in the border area of Peru and Bolivia, the Bolivian Lowlands, and then on towards the Mato Grosso in Brazil.



Tygomelia (Tim Morris)

Having taken many years to summon up enough courage to air in public this particular post's alliterative extravaganza of a title, I now have to justify it - so here goes!

What is this extraordinary piece of alliteration? Click to find out