CFZ Annual Report 2022

Dear Friends,

Every year for the last 28 years I have sat down in the week before Christmas and typed or dictated my annual report on how and what the CFZ has been doing during the previous year. Claims that I title the report after the series of albums by Throbbing Gristle are something I will neither confirm nor deny.

Things have changed at the Centre for Fortean Zoology many times over the intervening 28 years. Sadly, since about 2017, my profile both within the Cryptozoology community and indeed within the CFZ itself, has been fairly low-key.  In those years, I nursed Mother who finally died of dementia at the end of 2019 and I then nursed my late wife Corinna through what turned out to be her final illness before she died of cancer in 2020.  I have had a whole string of health problems of my own and as anybody who reads my regular bulletins will know – it has taken me several years to get back to fighting strength after all of that. However, I am pretty much back to speed now or as much as I am ever going to be, and it is good to be able to report that the CFZ is beginning to expand again after all those enforced years in the doldrums. 

2022 has been a year which has seen the launch of several new projects and a particularly successful expedition to Sumatra.

Odette Tchernine
You may remember that a couple of years ago, Richard Freeman and I were approached by a man whom Richard had once got chatting to on a train.  As a result of this conversation, he remembered that Richard was working with the CFZ and was an avid student of cryptozoology.  Apparently, he was at an auction and, amongst other things, bought some documents including an unpublished book by the late Odette Tchernine.  We purchased these items from him for a couple of hundred quid and I immediately set about the ever-resourceful Guin Palmer (referred to as Miss Guinevere in ‘On the Track’)  to the task of seeing if she could find Odette’s surviving relatives.

What I was not expecting was that Guin would become totally fascinated by Odette Tchernine and her legacy and that she had bequeathed enormous amounts of supplementary information, articles, plays, and poems all written 80 years ago.  Moreover, Guin also made contact with a lady, also living in Devon. who had purchased a considerable number of documents from Odette Tchernine’s estate and who was happy to collaborate with her on what would soon become quite a major project.

I am certain you will remember that last year Louis Rozier built us a magnificent new website.  By the late spring, we had amassed so much information and documents relating to Odette and her legacy that it was decided we would present them to the world in a similarly all-singing, all-dancing website designed by Louis and hopefully paid for by the Arts Council.  In addition, Guin (who is somewhat of a grammar Nazi) is editing and putting together Odette’s unpublished books about Man Beasts, working together with Richard Freeman on the footnotes and endnotes. We confidently expect it to be a major piece of scholarly work as was The Soviet Sasquatch, the long-lost book by Boris Porshnev which we finally published in August of 2021, after years of work by Dr Chris Clark and Lars Thomas.

Finally, Guin has decided to write a biography of Odette Tchernine featuring all the disparate information that she has collected over the last year and is continuing to collect.  The cumulative source material will also appear on Louis’ all-singing, all-dancing website. 

I would like to publicly thank Guin for all her hard work on this project and look forward greatly to seeing it progress over the forthcoming 12 months.

By the way, just in case you have ever wondered why I refer to Guin as Miss Guinevere and Maxine as Miss Maxine, and do the same for other ladies working within the CFZ, I refer you to an obscure arch rock band from Laurel Canyon in the late 1960s.  They were called the GTOs and consisted of a bunch of female acquaintances of Frank Zappa (including his babysitter).  He named them all with the prefix “Miss’, including Miss Pamela, Miss Christine and Miss Mercy, and the whole thing was referenced in one of John Waters’ movies.  I find it more than slightly amusing that I first referred to Maxine as ‘Miss Maxine’ when I made the Allman movie back in 1998/99.  I have continued this ever since mostly because it amuses me.

CFZ People
This year has seen some notable comings and goings in CFZ personnel.  Sarah, our housekeeper for the last four or five years, left for personal reasons and has been replaced by not one but two delightful ladies, Judy and Shelly.  They spoil me massively, mother me, and do a fantastic job.  The house looks nicer than it has since my parents died, and I enjoy their visits immensely..

As you may remember, apart from being my much-loved stepdaughter, Olivia was also my secretary for quite a few years. She left when she got a full-time job, in the summer of 2021.  Various people including Louis, took over secretarial duties in the meantime, but none of them were really fit for purpose but now I am incredibly pleased to say that this autumn I acquired the services of a brand-new sparkling secretary called Karen who is an absolute gem. 

Robin Pyatt Bellamy was our Canadian representative for many years, until she had to retire on health grounds last year. I would like to stress “health grounds” are not a euphemism and she is very seriously ill.  She and I still chat intermittently online and I am very fond of her. However, I am very pleased to say that she has been replaced by David Scott and his family, including his daughter Carol, whom many of you will remember as a recent guest on  ‘On the Track’, where she was talking about her new book about the mystery animals of Oceania.  Whilst on the subject of regional representatives, Katy Elizabeth, best known as a researcher on Lake Champlain, has taken over as the United States representative. 

I am also particularly pleased to welcome Saarthak Halbar as our representative for India, and Jakub Roček as our representative in the Czech Republic.  The latter is the head of the Ursus Arctos Project which is studying brown bears in Slovakia and the persistent stories of brown bears in the Czech Republic where they are supposed to have extirpated.  Dally Sandradiputra is now our representative in Indonesia and I hope to meet him face to face when he visits the UK next year for the Fortean film festival. Finally,  Trần Văn Xám is our representative in Vietnam. 

I feel that I should probably have a Bosun’s whistle to pipe all these people aboard, but I looked on Ebay and they were remarkably expensive, so I haven’t got one.

Lake Champlain Project
Katy Elizabeth has been a friend of the CFZ for some years now, ever since Richard and I rode separately into battle to protect her from the unfortunate sexism which is so rife in various parts of International Cryptozoology.  She is a well-known researcher on Lake Champlain and in September she managed to film some extraordinary sonar footage that appears to be of an animate object in 40 feet of water; the creature, if indeed it is a creature, being about 20 feet in length.  I had a long discussion with her last night, (19th December) and I am happy to say that she is going to be publishing a copy of her findings in a couple of years in a specially constructed corner of the CFZ website.  I look forward to seeing how this progresses.

Sumatra 2022 Expedition
As you probably know, we sent our sixth expedition to Sumatra in September and they came back to dear old Blighty after nearly a month in the jungle. It was probably our most successful expedition yet, at least since 2009; the one where our guide Sahar Dimus, and expedition member Dave Archer, both saw the orang-pendek in a tree and where hair samples were obtained. For those of you who don’t know, Danish zoologist Lars Thomas who runs the CFZ lab from his home in Copenhagen and works closely with Dr Pen Gilbert at the Copenhagen University, declared that the hair samples were close to those of an orangutan but distinct enough to be a different species. Disappointingly., the hairs were so degraded that a definitive analysis was impossible.

On this expedition, the three-man team had heard the creature on several occasions. Carl Marshall heard what he described as something very akin to the sound a young gorilla makes. On another occasion, all three of them heard a high-pitched yipping/laughing sound which appeared similar to the very high-pitched laugh of the comic book character, Skeletor, of which I am vaguely aware. They also obtained a second-hand print with comparable morphology to that which was used in Kerinci National Park on our expedition ten years ago. Moreover, they discovered a footprint which fell totally within the parameters we have established over the years for footprints of these unknown bi-ped apes.

On one occasion, they heard the high-pitched yipping from the other side of a thicket. Carl Marshall set off behind the thicket in an attempt to drive the orang-pendek forward in order for Richard Freeman to film it. However, when he reached the back of the thicket, the elusive animal ran off in the opposite direction. Carl caught a glimpse of something about a metre high and dark orange (described as being a little darker than my cat Captain Frunobulax the Magnificent – also known as Peanuts) running into the jungle. We assumed that it was probably an orang-pendek, but what happened next casts welcome doubt on that hypothesis.

The area where they were working has no tigers living there, and there were no historical reports of tiger existence. It was a long way from either of the two nearest tiger habitats. However, it was the intriguing thought of a mysterious entity said to be similar to a tiger but taller and more intelligent and somewhere between a spirit and a God that appealed. No-one in the West had heard of this entity, but found it very interesting nonetheless. Soon after their arrival in the area, they found a pug mark which Richard and Carl identified as a leopard. Several days later they found another pugmark of something which was undoubtedly a tiger. They put up trail cameras in the area hoping to get a picture of the orang-pendek. They managed to capture some photographs and a small moving film clip of a female tiger.  Assuming the yet smaller pug mark was actually that of a younger tiger, then this was most certainly not the only tiger living in that supposedly ‘tiger-less’ area.

In doing this they have confirmed that the animal behind the stories of the ‘tiger god’ in that area is most certainly a living, breathing creature. It is either a result of range expansion which our team has therefore been the first to note, or the result of a relict population of tigers in that area, something which has never been recorded. Either explanation is a fantastic result for the CFZ team. We are in the process of contacting the relevant authorities but I am sure you will understand that we will not be making the location of this sighting public knowledge. This is so we can do our best to preserve the tigers from predators and poachers.

On The Track
Our web TV show has gone from strength to strength this year.  Currently, we put out two shows a week:  On The Track (about half an hour in length) on Saturday afternoon’s at 3.00pm and OTT Xtra (somewhere between 10 and 20 Minutes) on Wednesday evenings at 6.30pm.  We have also started to put out supplemental shows such as the one alluded to earlier when we showed the Lake Champlain footage from September.  We then interviewed Katy Elizabeth as and when it seemed appropriate for example,  we did four extra shows when the Sumatra expedition returned. 

I have been complaining for years that we don’t get anywhere near as many viewing figures as some vacuous bint who claims to be an influencer and who has millions of people watching her ramblings about hair style tips.  But I have always been aware that we are a minority interest. Furthermore, since the particular brand of Crypto espoused by the  CFZ is considerably less popular than the brand of fantasy promulgated by people who should know better, and who burble on about bigfoot having the same sort of ‘cloaking devices’ shown on Star Trek, I suppose I cannot really complain.  However, I am very pleased to be able to tell you that we have finally reached the level of viewing hours that will allow the CFZ TV YouTube channel to become monetised.  Sorting all this out is a tedious exercise which Louis and I started today.  I hope it will be complete by the time we reach the end of what is euphemistically known as the ‘Festive Season’. 

We have been investing money in new equipment and software in order to continually improve the show resulting in hopefully,  ever higher viewing figures.  I do assure you however, that you are never going to see me grinning vacuously at the camera and that my hair style will continue to be the train crash it always has been.

So far this year, as well as our 12 monthly newsletters, we have published three books: 

CFZ Yearbook 2022/23
ISBN 978-1-909488-65-6 The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) is a professional and scientific organisation dedicated to cryptozoology: the study of unknown animals and allied disciplines. Since 1992, we have carried out extensive research into mystery animals and animal mysteries around the globe. We produce a weekly WebTV show called On the Track (OTT), which covers cryptozoology, natural history and green issues, mixed with a little light (and often peculiar) comedy. We also operate our own publishing house, producing both magazines and books on subjects that would otherwise not see the light of day.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology Yearbook is a collection of papers and essays too long and detailed for publication in the CFZ journal, Animals & Men. With contributions from both well-known researchers and relative newcomers to the field, the yearbook provides a forum where new theories can be expounded and work on little-known cryptids discussed.

  • Introduction 5
  • Contents 11

  • On the Track of Smaller Hidden Animals

  • – by Carl Marshall 15

  • Unravelling the Mystery of an Inexplicable Indian Reptilian: THE BURU

  • – by Saarthak Haldar 41

  • Exploring the Prospect of an Unidentified Species of Reptile within Navajo and Hopi Lands

  • – by Nick Sucik 67

  • “Phantom” Kangaroos in Germany

  • – by Ulrich Magin 81

  • Analysis of an Alleged “Chupacabras” Mummy

  • – by Hans-Jörg Vogel 91

  • The Modern Origins of Britain’s Mystery Big Cats: From WW2 to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976

  • – by Tim Whittard and Matt Everett 109

  • An Early Victorian Investigation into Roman Cryptozoology

  • – by Richard Muirhead 119

  • On the different Animals and Vegetables which are represented upon the Mosaic of the Pavement of the Temple of Fortune of Palestrina 121

  • Enabling Crypto-Research – Creation Of Books and Beasts

  • – by Matt Bille 143

  • The Animals that should exist 

  • – by Lars Thomas ` 147

  • Index to Flying Snake Issues 6-10 

  • – by Richard Muirhead 159

  • The Monster of Crescent Lake, Newfoundland

  • – by David Weatherly 165

  • The Van Meter Creatures

  • – by Shane Lea and Richard Muirhead 173

  • The “X” Formation: An analysis and interpretation

  • – by Sanjay R Singhal R.A 179

  • X Marks the Spot

  • – by Alex Mistretta 215

  • Marine Monsters on Spanish Beaches

  • – by Javier Resines 225

  • Enter Afonya: The most detailed Wildman encounter of all – by Richard Freeman 233

  • The Centre for Fortean Zoology Annual Report 2021

  • – by Jon Downes 241 

  • About the CFZ 247

  • CFZ Publishing Group 255
Eagle Clan Arawak Monsters – by Damen Cory
ISBN 978-1-909488-66-3

This is a remarkable book told from a unique perspective. Damon Corrie is a hereditary chief of the Eagle Clan of the Arawak Tribe based mostly in Guyana. He has made a lifelong study of the mystery animals and animal folklore of his people, and we believe that this is the first time that these remarkable accounts have been collected together in a single volume. Moreover, the CFZ’s very own Richard Freeman has added a number of appendices describing the expedition that he and Damon went on in 2007.

We heartily recommend this new volume to anybody interested in the mysteries of South America and the mythology which shapes the people who still live there.

Invizikids – by Mike Hallowell
ISBN 978-1-909488-67-0

I remember well the day that Mike Hallowell sent me this manuscript. How impressed I was, and how disappointed I was too that he had already sold the publishing rights. 15 years on, give or take a week or two, and Mike and his original publisher have very kindly signed over the rights to us. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the best books that we have ever published, and, indeed, one of the best books ever written about a Fortean subject.
This is a fantastic book and centres on the imaginary friends which so many children have. I had one when I was a child, and probably so did you. Writing in 2015, eight years after this book was first published Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D. says:

“Imaginary friends are an integral part of many children’s lives. They provide comfort in times of stress, companionship when they’re lonely, someone to boss around when they feel powerless, and someone to blame for the broken lamp in the living room. Most important, an imaginary companion is a tool young children use to help them make sense of the adult world.”

These friendships take place in a weird sort of ur-space that is neither pure imagination or actual reality (whatever that is) and are important not just because they are practically universal, but because of their implications for those of us who study the noosphere.

I have known Mike Hallowell for well over 20 years, and have always been impressed by his books and articles. He has the sort of enquiring poly mathematical mind which I admire, as he sets his talents into investigating a wide range of different arcane subjects. But this inquiry into the true nature of childhood imaginary friends may well prove to be the most important thing he has ever written.

I note with regret that this has been another year in which our journal, Animals & Men has not been published.  There are simply not enough hours in the day, but I have every hope that issue 71 will be out in the next few months.  However, I would be very grateful if there is anybody out there who would like to volunteer for the magazine, particularly with the news aggregation element which is a time-consuming task and one which I need someone to help with. It could probably mean that the magazine would be able to go back to something approximating its original publication schedule.  I am sure with its advent to the lovely Karen, and her husband Richard – proofreader par excellence – it is going to make things in that part of the CFZ multiverse far more efficient than it is at the moment.

I look back somewhat nostalgically to the CFZ ten or twelve years ago when we had basically fulfilled my childhood dreams of having my own private zoo. But back in those days there were a lot of people working here, and I seemed to have become a de facto uncle to half of North Devon;  there were a lot of beautiful teenage girls milling about and a plethora of strapping young lads coming to see what the teenagers were doing and I managed to put them all to work.

Now the teenagers have grown up with kids of their own, the students who used to come here for work experience are all qualified and the only people living full time in the house are me and Graham.  So, as the animals in the CFZ menagerie have passed on to pastures new (either in heaven or on earth) we have not replaced them.  The aviaries have been demolished or stand empty waiting for the sort of animal rescue that the universe seems to plonk upon our doorstep more often than can be explained but more often than pure chance. I have two functioning tanks of fish rather than the 17 I had in 2009.

Currently, the list of CFZ livestock consists of four cats, a bumptious little dog, who as you can see from this year’s CFZ Christmas card, considers himself to be the most important animal or human living here.  Apart from this, we still have the African leaf fish which Max donated to us 12 years ago, two axolotls, a couple of mosquito fish, both females so they won’t breed! (they are practically impossible to get hold of so my breeding colony that lasted the best part of nine years will fizzle out), and Corinna’s old pet hen Henny-Penny who is now about ten years old.  Whether or not I end up getting more exotics depends on the way the good Lord treats my various health problems, but from where I am sitting at the moment, I think it is probably unlikely.

So, ladies & gentlemen, that is about it.  I have various books which I want to publish in 2023, the first of which being a massive book on Zooform Phenomena called ‘The Highest Strangeness’ by Richard Freeman, which has been edited by Miss Guinevere, who has worked with him on the footnotes.

We are hoping that there will be another major expedition next year and hope to announce the details in February or March. Apart from that, we shall just keep on keeping on, as Bob Dylan once wrote.  

I would like to draw your attention to this campaign, ‘Kelly Kettles for Ukraine’, which has been started by my brother and sister-in-law:

It is a remarkable piece of practical help to the beleaguered people of that war-torn country, and I would urge you all to help in any way you can.

As always, I would like to wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful and secure New Year.

Best wishes,

Jon Downes
Director, Centre for Fortean Zoology