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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, January 01, 2014

CFZ Annual Report 2013

Annual Report
2014

Dear Friends,

I know I say this every year, but I wrote my first CFZ Annual Report in December 1995 and so much has changed since then that the organisation I founded back in 1992, more as a conceptual joke than for any other reason, is pretty much unrecognisable. This is because it has actually turned out much the way I had always wanted it to, and certainly far better than I had any realistic expectations of it becoming.

This has been a strange but oddly satisfying year here at the CFZ. Overall the theme has been consolidation, and as I intend to happen during 2014, we are trying to put our house in order before entering on any new stage of expansion. Over the years 2006-2012 we expanded at a remarkable rate but now is the time to make sure that our foundations are rock solid so that we can continue to grow and to achieve more and more of our goals.

There have been some personnel changes at the CFZ with several people leaving and some notable new arrivals like Mark Raines, who is rapidly becoming one of my most trusted lieutenants, locally at least. I am not going to dwell on the people who have left. I wish them well but will not miss them on either a personal or a professional level.

  • ANIMALS

We have continued our animal rescue work throughout the year – notable additions to the CFZ menagerie being:

  • Archie. A little Jack Russell terrier adopted in August after the break-up of the relationship of his previous owners
  • Frunobulax and Lilith, two kittens found abandoned in a field in Hartland
  • A partial albino crow with nerve damage meaning that he cannot fly properly and will have to spend the rest of his life with us. He came via our good friend Beth at Hartland Wildlife Rescue
  • Lobby – a blue freshwater lobster from New Guinea who outgrew the tank his previous owners had him in and ate all their fish. He is a fine example of the sad practice of pet shops selling creatures that will grow big and fast without explaining the fact to potential buyers
  • Four small Japanese quail that had been kept in unsuitable conditions and were close to death


  • PUBLICATIONS

BOOKS
There has been some little unpleasantness this year regarding our commercial ethics. One or two of our authors have complained about the relatively low volume of book sales and complain that we are not as active in publicity as other businesses. The reason for this is simplle: we are not a business; we do not exist to make money and if any money is made it goes towards other projects. I am not interested in being a businessman, which is probably a good thing because I don’t think that I would be very good at it. Our only reason for existence is to publish books and other material that we believe are worth publishing and would otherwise never see the light of day.

We also do not indulge in what I believe are questionable business practices; for example, re-issuing our titles a few years later with an extra chapter so that people will have to buy the same book twice. We are resolutely anti-capitalist and I find behaviour like that to be offensive in the extreme.

This year we have not produced as many books as usual, mainly because we have been re-organising the entire publication schedule, but also because of the sheer amount of time the first three titles on this list took. They are all three works of considerable scholarship and have many references that needed to be confirmed.

Pygmy Elephants by Matt Salusbury               
                Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology - Volume 1 by George Eberhart
                Terror of the Tokoloshe  by S.D. Tucker,
The Spiritual Baptist Church  by Roy Kerridge 
The Mystery Animals of the British Isles: Staffordshire by Nick Redfern/Glen Vaudrey         
Judex Book One: The Universe Next Door by Smith, Judge          
Centre for Fortean Zoology Yearbook 2013

Sales are a little down because of the recession, but still enough to finance our ongoing efforts. This year’s hit parade is:

1          The Great Yokai Encyclopaedia                       
2          The Journal of Cryptozoology #1                     
3          When Bigfoot Attacks                                     
4          Those Amazing Newfoundland Dogs                
5          Monsters of Texas                                           
6          The Inhumanoids                                               
7          Wildman!                                                           
8)         Haunted Skies Vol 1                                           
8)         Mysterious Creatures                                          
10        Cats of Magic, Mythology and Mystery           

Animals & Men
After some years of abeyance, our flagship journal has reappeared, in colour and with a brand new Quarto format. We published two issues this year – in July (#50) and December (#51) – although the vast majority of subscriber copies will not be mailed out until the beginning of 2014.

We are very proud of the new format, and want to welcome our two new cartoonists Wen Chang and Janne Karlsson, as well as our columnists Carl Marshall and Carl Portman.

There should be another issue in the spring.

The Journal of Cryptozoology.
Volume Two is now complete, and should have been out in time for Christmas. There was a problem with the cover (which mea culpa was entirely my fault, and was compounded by the Christmas post. However, I believe that we shall be able to start sending them out at the end of this week, or the beginning of next. Many apologies for the delay.

The content is:
Editorial
Karl P.N. Shuker
Three Remarkable Tales and Two Challenges For Anthropology – 
An Evaluation of Recently Reported Eyewitness Accounts of Unidentified Hominoids From Flores Island
Gregory Forth
A Historical Depiction of a King Cheetah in Asia?
Karl P.N. Shuker
The Lake Monsters of Spain
Ulrich Magin
A Preliminary Examination of the Koolookamba Enigma
Don Cousins
Instructions to Contributors:
(i) Important Issues to Consider When Preparing a Cryptozoological Paper
(ii) The Style of Presentation Required for Submissions to the Journal

I would particularly like to thank Karl Shuker for all his hard work on the project. He has had a particularly difficult year, and this extra work must not have been easy for him. Thank you mate; I really do appreciate it.

E-publishing
I am horrendously old fashioned and do not like e-books but then again, I don’t like a lot of things about the modern world. However; with help from Graham Barmer, Dave Braund-Phillips and (soon) Dave Baldwin; we have started issuing our publications as e-books, and hope that by the end of 2014 there will be a considerable proportion of our publications in this brave new format.

CFZ Classics and CFZ Kids
Last year I announced a new project whereby researchers can fund their research through publishing new editions of out-of-copyright books and papers through CFZ Press. Work has continued on this project and you are likely to see the first fruits of this project in the spring. We are also planning our first books particularly for the junior market. Again, I hope that these things will happen in the spring.

  • CFZtv

Again it has been a fairly quiet year as far as film is concerned. However, we have produced twelve episodes of On the Track and posted the entire contents of this year’s Weird Weekend up on CFZtv. There are four feature-length films in the pipeline:

  1. Emily and the Big Cats. This was mostly filmed in 2009-11 but needs an enormous amount of post-production work before it is even ready for YouTube. But hopefully we will find the time this year
  2. An as yet untitled film of the Tasmania expedition
  3. Orang Pendek – we have footage from three Sumatra expeditions and intend to edit them into a cohesive whole
  4. The Night the Sixties Died –A film about the legacy of the late and much missed Mick Farren

  • CFZ GROUNDS AND MUSEUM

My elderly parents did not do as much as they should have done in keeping up the repairs on the property that is now the headquarters of the Centre for Fortean Zoology. We have done our best over the years but have been hampered by lack of money and although we have dealt with many of the repairs to the main building, we have been forced to neglect work on the conservatory and the museum, both of which are now in grave need of repair before they can be reopened to visitors as they were a few years ago.

Graham spent much of the summer working hard on the repairs to the conservatory, which are over fifty percent completed, and we hope that in the next dry period he will be able to fix the roof of the museum building so that we (and particularly our two interns Saskia England and Sheri Myler) will be able to get the whole place shipshape in time for the coming summer.

As well as the charming young ladies, we also have another new helper – an 8-year-old lad called Coby – who has worked so hard clearing fallen leaves and twigs from the garden that it is in a better state now than it has been in any January for many years.

Also during the summer we were donated a magnificent new pond from Helen Taylor, and much work was done by Jess and Matthew putting it in and starting work on what is already a wildlife-friendly water garden, and will eventually be part of a long water garden complex. It already has resident colonies of palmated newts, common frogs and common toads, and we believe that it contributed to the much higher numbers of butterflies recorded in the garden this year. The whole of the eastern side of the grounds will eventually be optimised for Lepidoptera foodplants and a series of ponds and bog gardens.

  • LIBRARY

Although the initial building work on the CFZ Library was finished early last year, we are still looking for someone to catalogue our voluminous and ever-expanding book collection. Graidi and Tim Taylor-Rose started, but then they also started a family and young Dougal (who for some reason starts to scream and then bursts into tears whenever he sees his Great Uncle Jon) has taken up all of their spare time. So if there is someone out there (preferably within travelling distance of Woolsery) who wants to take on this unwelcome task, I would be very grateful.

However, we are looking for larger, external premises for the library, somewhat along the lines of the Anomaly Archives in Austin, Tx. Two benefactors (I don’t know whether this is the correct term when the people concerned are still very much alive) have told me that they have left their entire libraries to the CFZ in their wills. I have several potential plans for this and will keep members informed of developments. However, as the two members concerned are both dear friends of mine, I sincerely hope that this will not be a practical problem with which we have to deal for many years to come.

  • BLOGS

This year, through the hard work of Ronan Coghlan and Michael Newton (not to mention the lovely Raven Meindel) we launched a dedicated blog for CFZ USA. I am very grateful to them all for what they have done.

The CFZ Blog Network continues to grow in popularity and – as I write – is in second place in the Nature Blog Networks hit parade, behind Mongabay. Only last year we were quite often not even in the Top 10. We have now had 5.4 million hits – and continue to have about 1.3 million hits each year.

  • EXPEDITIONS

There were two major expeditions this year:

            Sumatra 2013
A three-person team – Richard Freeman, Adele Morse and Christophe Killian – spent several weeks in Kerinci Seblat National Park this July. The expedition was probably the most successful yet with many hair samples taken, footprints seen and photographed (though only one cast), and the vocalisations heard. Richard paid tribute to Adele's skills on the expedition, saying that she is a very valuable addition to the team.

Tasmania 2013
This expedition was organised by Mike and Rebecca of CFZ Australia and included members from both the UK CFZ and from CFZ Australia. They contacted hitherto unknown eyewitnesses, and even came back with scat samples which are presently being DNA analysed at Copenhagen University and by Dr Brandon Menzies at Melbourne University.

  • WEIRD WEEKEND

The 2013 event was a great success, and we were particularly pleased that over £900 was raised for village charities. Speakers were:

Richard Ingram: The Search for Inhabitable Planets
Ronan Coghlan: The Church and Evolution
Lee Walker: Dead of Night
Lars Thomas: The Natural History of Trolls
Silas Hawkins: A bedtime story from Richard Freeman's Hyakumonogatari
Jon and Richard: Intro to Cryptozoology
Nick Wadham: Fairies
Tony Whitehead (RSPB): Starslime
Glen Vaudrey - Mystery Animals of Staffordshire
Shaun Histed-Todd: Evidence for Civilisation X and Pre-Columbian contact
Judge Smith: The Universe Next Door
Darren Naish: Adventures from the world of Tetrapod Zoology
Andrew Sanderson: Russia 2013 Expedition Report
Richard Freeman: Sumatra 2013 Expedition Report
Silas Hawkins: A bedtime story from Richard Freeman's Hyakumonogatari
Sarah Boait: Orbs from a photographer's perspective
James Newton: Bigfoot
Lars Thomas: The Cryptozoology of Greenland
Ronan Coghlan: Lure of the Leprechaun
Jon Downes: Keynote Speech

The 2014 event has already been booked for the third weekend of August. Currently confirmed speakers are:

Nigel Mortimer: Opening Portals
Ronan Coghlan: Bogus Bibles
Lee Walker: Urban Legends of Liverpool
Lars Thomas: Tales from the CFZ Laboratory
Silas Hawkins: A bedtime story
Jon and Richard: Intro to Cryptozoology
Nick Wadham: Alien Abductions
Tony Whitehead (RSPB): O.O.P birds
Max Blake: Genetics for Cryptozoologists
Judge Smith: The Judex Trilogy
John Higgs: Chaos, Magick, and the band who burned a million quid
Richard Freeman: Tasmania 2013 Expedition Report
Silas Hawkins: A bedtime story from Richard Freeman's Hyakumonogatari
Matt Salusbury: Baron Walter Rothschild's Deinotherium caper
Neil Nixon: Music from aliens, ghosts and things that go bump in the night
Ronan Coghlan: The Amphibians from Outer Space
Jon Downes: Keynote Speech

I am looking forward to 2014. We hope to increase our publishing schedule this year, although perhaps not up to the levels of 2012. The Weird Weekend looks to be a good one, and there are several expeditions in the pipeline.

At the moment the limiting factor in what the CFZ achieves, in many ways, is me. My physical condition is continuing to decline, but because entropy only works in one direction that is not really surprising. I have been very touched by recent offers of assistance in various areas, and have every reason to expect that 2014 will be a particularly good one.

Slainte Mhor

Jon Downes

  

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