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, May 13, 2009

NEIL ARNOLD: The Living mermaids

I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy mod 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...

As mentioned by James Lloyd, in My Circus Life, 1925. A truly wondrous exhibit being a lady and a gentleman, who, for great novelty, sprang into a glass tank, measuring ten-feet in length by eight-feet in width, and consisting of four-feet of water. The individuals, able to sit and play cards, perform somersaults and even drink milk under water for five minutes, were labelled as ‘The Living Mermaids’. However, this peculiar couple were drunkards about town, and so, unable to find a place to stay, it was arranged for the tank to be drained and the performers to spend the night in the tank (still in their mermaid costumes), which had been bedded down with straw and covered over in rugs which acted as a roof.

After one long and tiresome journey, where the couple had indulged upon a bottle of finest whisky for warmth and fallen asleep, the village the wagon arrived at became one of hysteria. Several people had crowded around the tank, for the spectacle before them was one of mystery and fantasy. Beneath the bed of straw and rugs were two ‘mermaids’ lying peacefully, embraced in slumber. Many local folk were afraid to approach the exhibit for some believed that bears or even monkey’s were housed, whilst an Irishman believed that whatever lay in the tank was dead. A small boy approached the tank, only for a women to scream at him, “Come out of that, ye devil. Do ye want to be eaten alive ?”.

When one of the mer-beings flinched, startled observer almost leapt out of his skin and yelled, “What kind of baste it is at all ?”.

The dozing couple then woke, yawned and stretched themselves, without knowledge of their audience. Wishing to visit the nearest public house, they climbed a ladder, and removed their costumes by the time they had reached the pub. One witness exclaimed to Mr Lloyd, “I have studied natural history. Bedad, I never saw nor read of such animals, for mermaids have tails.”

Mr Lloyd replied, “Yes, but these misbehaved themselves, so I cut their tails off.”

The man replied, “You did right, sor.”

When looking back on the drama caused by the ‘mermaids’, Lloyd wrote, ‘This was the big advertisement for me.’

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