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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Thursday, August 11, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: `Killers on the Moor` - seriously flawed

I am about half way through reading Killers on the Moor by Mike Freebury.

It is very well produced, and Freebury is an engaging, likeable and witty writer, and his tale of investigating animal mutilations at home and abroad is well written and enjoyable.

However, and this is such a big however that it needs to be printed:


There are some unforgiveable mistakes. Alarm bells began ringing in my mind as soon as I started reading his account of the Newquay Zoo animal mutilations of 1977, and more specifically the involvement of the late Mrs Joan Amos in investigating them.

I knew Joan quite well, and I am certain that she told me that she had not investigated the matter for herself, but had only received the documents and information third hand via a contact in the Plymouth UFO Group.

I published a lengthy account of the case in The Owlman and Others (first published 1997), in which I put at least one of the outstanding queries to bed. The lumps on the jaws of the wallabies were due to an infection by Fusobacterium necrophorous, a condition known colloquially as 'lumpy jaw.' It is a well-known condition in captive marsupials and not at all mysterious or sinister. If you want to know more about the condition click this link:


I cannot prove that Freebury is wrong about Joan's involvement in the case because she has been dead for years and it is my memory versus his word! However, when he comes on to the next case, the Loftus wallaby slashing, I can and will provide a list of refutations:

1. The case did not take place in 2003. It was August 2002; the 21-23rd to be exact (my 43rd birthday).
2. I have never been in charge of an organisation called the Crypto Zoologist Foundation. Presumably he means the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ)
3. I did not send Richard to Loftus. The two of us travelled up there together.
4. The team from Scream Team were not in the area by chance. I arranged to liaise with them, and they paid Richard's and my expenses.

...and so on.

I would like to think that these mistakes are just one-off aberrations. The book is otherwise very interesting and makes some good points. However, in a later chapter the descriptions of the events surrounding Joan's time in hospital during 1978 are at variance with my memory of what she told me, and there are large chunks of her research into animal mutilations and missing domestic cats that have been ignored, so I am inclined to think that other parts of the book may be equally as flawed.

So this is strange. I like the book, and I agree with many of his conclusions, but what the bloody hell was he thinking when he was researching it?

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