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, 2015


Dear Friends,

It is that time of the year again; the time when I begin to panic about this year's Weird Weekend. For those of you not in the know, the Weird Weekend is another of those peculiar projects that I started almost by accident, and which has grown in a quasi-organic manner into something that I don't think that anyone was expecting. In a nutshell The Weird Weekend is the largest yearly gathering of mystery animal investigators in the English-speaking world. Now in its sixteenth year, the convention attracts speakers and visitors from all over the world and showcases the findings of investigators into strange phenomena.

That all sounds very worthy if you are into all that sort of thing, but as always, mere words don't really do the event justice. As I say each year, it is a place Where one can see old friends, and meet new ones, it is a place where alliances have been formed, plans made and research both formulated and evaluated, and above all it is great fun. I truly don't think that there is another event like it in the world quite like it.

At last year's event, for example, one of the founder members of Van Der Graaf Generator talked about his researches into the matter of life after death, a British explorer recounted his adventures in the police state of what used to be Burma in search for a probably extinct species of duck that most people haven't ever heard of, our guest if honour was the ashes of Wally Hope, a graphic demonstration using small children explained how scorpions attack their prey, an exhibition by the UKs leading underground cartoonist, and one of the presenters introduced one of the acts whilst rolling around on the floor wrapped in a bin bag. Oh yes, and there was also the world famous Tunnel of Goats, a haunted teddy bear nest, and a spider baby. And the whole event kicks off with free drinks in a marquee on my lawn. There is music, art, films and some of the nicest home cooked food that one could possibly imagine. Nine months later one of Britain's leading explorers is still eulogising over the feta cheese salad.

I think we have established that the event is great fun, but I also believe that it is an important event, and furthermore one which would be sadly missed if it ever came to an end.

Why is it important? A whole slew of reasons:

  • It is the only conference in the world that is not just aimed at preaching to the converted. it is aimed at the casual enthusiast as much as the acknowledged expert, and there are entry level items as well as ones for the more rarified interest.
  • It is the only conference that I have ever been to where there is no Green Room. There is nowhere for the experts, and famous guests (and believe me, some of the guests are very famous indeed) to hide from the general public. Our guests are encouraged to mix with the public, and our public are encouraged to communicate with and interact with the guests.
  • It is the only conference in the world (as far as I am aware) that doesn't take itself too seriously. I have been asked over and over again why I don't call it something like 'The International Cryptozoological Symposium', and the answer is simple. There are too many two bit organisations that revel in self aggrandisement and give themselves idiotically pompous titles. We already know that this is the best conference in the fortean world, so why be pompous about it? It is also the only conference that I have ever been to which is just as surreally silly as it is academically sensible.
  • It is family friendly. Kids are encouraged to participate, and there are special events (such as the mildly revolting, but world famous, cake eating competition, and the nature walk, that are especially aimed at the younger generation.
  • It is raising money not only for the Centre for Fortean Zoology, but for the Small School in Hartland, a valuable and unique educational establishment. What's so good about the Small School? This is how they describe themselves on their website:
"Welcome to the Small School, a co-educational, independent school for 11-16 year olds, based in Hartland, Devon. We believe education should be based on trust and mutual respect, together with a commitment to the school community. We aim for a flexible and responsive approach to an individual’s interests, needs and abilities, thereby seeking to develop self-motivated learning.

Although over thirty years old, the Small School continues to pioneer a human scale approach to education and there is no other secondary school quite like it in the country. Many new ‘Free Schools’ have been influenced by the ethos of the Small School, but human scale at the Small School means a maximum of 40 students only."

It is a valuable fund raiser for both organisations, but it is not about the money, not at all. We haven't put the price up in ten years. It remains twenty quid for the whole weekend if you buy in advance, and everyone under sixteen gets in for free as long as they are accompanied by a vaguely responsible adult. And if you live in Hartland, Woolsery, Clovelly or Welcome there is a special discount rate.

No, this is not at all about the money. It is about bringing people together for an absolutely magickal weekend of high strangeness and monumental silliness, and I really wish that everyone reading this would bite the bullet and decide to come.


Well, first of all, the best thing that you can do is buy tickets from the link here:

But we are also looking for sponsors. Last year our sponsors included Gonzo Multimedia, Vaudrey Arts, and Erik Norlander's Think Tank Media, and we would love to have even more this year. if you would like to sponsor the event either with a cash donation or a donation of goods that can be used as raffle or door prizes please contact us. We would love to have you on board.

So why am I panicking? I have never made any secret of my incipient paranoia, and although we have held fifteen successful events so far, and never yet had an event where nobody turned up, we have only sold a handful of tickets so far, and Despite the lessons of history, I would be much happier of we could sell a few more.

So c'mon guys. Make a paranoid old hippy a happy man, and come and join in the fun. You won't regret it, I promise, and you will actually be helping to change the world just that little bit.

Om Shanti

Jon Downes

NESSIENEWS (Caveat Lector)

Loch Ness Monster? You otter know better, says wildlife expert
A WILDLIFE expert claims his snap of an otter proves the animals are a common cause of Nessie sightings. The image was was taken by Dr Jonathan ...

Animals & Men #53


Happy Birthday old friend

CFZ PEOPLE: Mark Raines

Happy Birthday matey


What has Corinna's column of Fortean bird news got to do with cryptozoology?

Well, everything, actually!

In an article for the first edition of Cryptozoology Bernard Heuvelmans wrote that cryptozoology is the study of 'unexpected animals' and following on from that perfectly reasonable assertion, it seems to us that whereas the study of out-of-place birds may not have the glamour of the hunt for bigfoot or lake monsters, it is still a perfectly valid area for the Fortean zoologist to be interested in.


The hunt for British Big Cats attracts far more newspaper-column inches than any other cryptozoological subject. 

There are so many of them now that we feel that they should be archived by us in some way, so we are publishing a regular round-up of the stories as they come in. 

The worldwide mystery cat phenomenon (or group of phenomena, if we are to be more accurate) is not JUST about cryptozoology. At its most basic level it is about the relationship between our species and various species of larger cat. That is why sometimes you will read stories here that appear to have nothing to do with cryptozoology but have everything to do with human/big cat interaction. As committed Forteans, we believe that until we understand the nature of these interactions, we have no hope of understanding the truth that we are seeking.

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    The Gonzo Daily - Wednesday
    Yesterday was one of those days when I managed to get a surprising amount done. For example the Weird Weekend 2015 Facebook page which you can see here: https://www.facebook.com/weirdweekend2015  However, for technical reasons with which I will not bore you, the WW website is down at the minute although you can still buy tickets here: http://tinyurl.com/oe5fmty
    The digital edition of Animals & Men #53 is out and can be read here: http://tinyurl.com/mvfxpzv The hard copy and Kindle editions will be out in a week or so. This issue is, I am afraid, about ten days late, but our hearts are in the right place. Honest.
    And happy birthday to Mark Raines and Dave McMann.
    The Gonzo Weekly #129
    Clepsydra, Zenit, Eels, Jethro Tull, Valentina Blanca, Roy Weard, Dogwatch, That Legendary Wooden Lion, Hawkwind, Jon Anderson, and Yes fans had better look out!
    The latest issue of Gonzo Weekly (#129) is available to read at www.gonzoweekly.com, and to download at http://www.gonzoweekly.com/pdf/. It has Clepsydra on the front cover together with an interview with Andy Thommen inside. There is a look at Eels live by Doug, and Richard Stellar looks at a new film interwoven with one of Jethro Tull's most poignant songs. Jon examines the British X Files, and presents a political parable whilst breaking the law at the Polling Booths, whilst the legendary Roy Weard starts a regular column.We send the lovely Valentina Blanca to a desert island, There is a peek at some rare Hawkwind and Yes memorabilia, Neil Nixon reports on an even stranger album than usual, Wyrd goes into the stone age, Xtul gets even more peculiar, and there are radio shows from Strange Fruit and from M Destiny at Friday Night Progressive, and the legendary Canterbury Sans Frontières is back. There is also a collection of more news, reviews, views, interviews and pademelons trying to choose (OK, nothing to do with small marsupials having difficulty in making choices, but I got carried away with things that rhymed with OOOOS) than you can shake a stick at. And the best part is IT's ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!
    This issue features:
    The Who, Stuart David, Belle and Sebastian, Adele, Noel Gallagher, Dave Bainbridge, Iona, Karnataka, Joni Mitchell, Galahad, Strange Fruit, Friday Night Progressive, Canterbury Sans Frontieres, John Tout, Rutger Gunnarsson, Craig Gruber, Errol Brown, Guy Carawan, Ruth Rendell, Mick Abrahams & Sharon Watson, Tommy James, Hugh Hopper, Third Ear Band, WMWS, David Peel, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Eliza Carthy & Jim Moray,Clepsydra, Andy Thommen, Eels, Richard Stellar, Roy Weard, Hawkwind, Valentina Blanca, Yes, Chris Squire, Tony Kaye, Alan White, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Wyrd, Mike Davis, Organik Reflektions, Xtul, Neil Nixon, And The Native Hipsters, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, The Monkees, The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Grateful Dead, The Ramones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Therion

    Read the previous few issues of Gonzo Weekly:
    Issue 128 (Louie Louie cover)
    Issue 127 (Roy Weard cover)
    Issue 126 (Atkins-May Project cover)
    Issue 125 (Mick Abrahams cover)
    Issue 124 (Karnataka cover)
    Issue 123 (Cream cover)
    Issue 122 (Anthony Phillips cover)
    Issue 121 (Annie Haslam cover)
    Issue 120 (Frank Zappa cover)
    Issue 119 (Eliza Carthy cover)
    Issue 118 (Dave Brock cover)
    Issue 117 (Daevid Allen cover)
    All issues from #70 can be downloaded at www.gonzoweekly.com if you prefer. If you have problems downloading, just email me and I will add you to the Gonzo Weekly dropbox. The first 69 issues are archived there as well. Information is power chaps, we have to share it!
    You can download the magazine in pdf form HERE:
    * The Gonzo Daily is a two way process. If you have any news or want to write for us, please contact me at jon@eclipse.co.uk. If you are an artist and want to showcase your work, or even just say hello please write to me at gonzo@cfz.org.uk. Please copy, paste and spread the word about this magazine as widely as possible. We need people to read us in order to grow, and as soon as it is viable we shall be invading more traditional magaziney areas. Join in the fun, spread the word, and maybe if we all chant loud enough we CAN stop it raining. See you tomorrow...
    * The Gonzo Daily is - as the name implies - a daily online magazine (mostly) about artists connected to the Gonzo Multimedia group of companies. But it also has other stuff as and when the editor feels like it. The same team also do a weekly newsletter called - imaginatively - The Gonzo Weekly. Find out about it at this link: www.gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/…/all-gonzo-news-wots-fit
    * We should probably mention here, that some of our posts are links to things we have found on the internet that we think are of interest. We are not responsible for spelling or factual errors in other people's websites. Honest guv!
    * Jon Downes, the Editor of all these ventures (and several others) is an old hippy of 55 who - together with an infantile orange cat named after a song by Frank Zappa puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon which he shares with various fish, and sometimes a small Indian frog. He is ably assisted by his lovely wife Corinna, his bulldog/boxer Prudence, his elderly mother-in-law, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus.. did we mention the infantile orange cat?

    NEWS FROM NOWHERE - Wednesday

    ON THIS DAY IN 1861 - Britain declared its neutrality in the American Civil War
    And now some more recent news from the CFZ Newsdesk

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  • Bat research by Israeli scientist alters concepts ...
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  • Whales in Gulf of Mexico face endangered status as...

  • Is this fish’s cancerous tumor a sign of water pol...

  • AND TO WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK... (Music that may have some relevance to items also on this page, or may just reflect my mood on the day)