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, April 22, 2009

NEIL ARNOLD: Strange stories

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...

I had to leave a lot of information out of my new book MYSTERY ANIMALS OF THE BRITISH ISLES: KENT, otherwise it would have been a ridiculously bloated bible of Kent animal weirdness. Among some of the strange and quirky stories I left out include, the gardener named Cyril who, whilst strimming an overgrown patch at Joyce Green Hospital, was confronted by a great beast. The creature, a three-feet long Bosc monitor lizard sprang from the undergrowth and terrified the witness.

And let us not forget recent rumours that a porcupine was on the loose down towards the Romney Marsh area of Kent. The animal was discovered by a mooching dog but disappeared down a fox hole of all places! And then there was the ‘monster’ of Greenwich, which found its way to the Eagle Heights Birds of Prey Centre in rural Kent, after it was pulled from the depths of the Greenwich Park Pond, London. The American Snapping Turtle, more at home in the swampy river bottoms, was destroying the eco-system of the pond by devouring ducklings, frogs, newts and fish, before it was captured. At the time a London-based RSPCA Inspector claimed that more than 400 exotics were picked up each year as unwanted pets around London alone. More than 50% of these ‘pets’ were large snakes!

One of the funniest tales pertains to an iguana which was seen running up Brixton High Street! And also the man who strolled into a London pub for a pint and came home with a ‘small lizard’, which turned out to be a caiman croc’!

In UK fishing circles the current urban legend doing the rounds concerns the possible dread that the Asian Snakehead fish, is prowling the depths of many a lake. This concern seems unfounded, but recently an angler fishing on a lower tidal stretch of the Thames, at Woolwich, came across a dead fish which he at first thought may be the all conquering Snakehead. He contacted the Environment Agency who stated it was in fact a walking catfish. A fish able to move across land with the use of its pectoral spines and a shuffling motion. This one certainly wasn’t one that got away!

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