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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Monday, August 31, 2009

NEIL ARNOLD: The Furry Demon

I have known Neil for fifteen years now, since he was a mod schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippy 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....

In the annals of ‘big cat’ folklore in the UK, reports of attacks on humans are often dubious. However, consider the legend of Gypsy Wood, a dark stretch of woodland in Warrington. Here originated the tale of the Furry Demon, a ferocious cat-like entity still in existence up until the early 1980s.

Many at the time considered the legend to be a hazy campfire spook tale, but not the two lovers who stopped off in the shadows whilst travelling home from their date at Earlestown British Legion. Whilst having a kiss and a cuddle in the vehicle, they were both startled by a face at the window, of grotesque and hairy appearance. The creature had fangs and scurried off into the darkness. The frightened man assured his date that the creature had gone and went out to inspect the car where he found huge scratch marks on the paintwork.

This incident echoed a similar assault by the beast, this time from the 1940s, when a sergeant who’d taken his girlfriend to her home at Earlestown, decided to walk back via Gypsy Wood, in the vicinity of Winwick. The area had an eerie ambience to it for the place had been under the threat of an air raid and the sky had been illuminated by German parachute flairs, which were trying to trace the R.A.F. base at Burtonwood.

The sergeant was strolling along a tight lane when suddenly he was leapt on by a strange creature, which clung to his back. The beast clawed at his face savagely; his uniform had been torn and the teeth of the monster had sunk into his face. Bravely he tangled with the creature and managed to throw it to the ground. Luckily, a car came by and the driver stopped to aid the sergeant. However, as soon as the driver saw the bloody mess the ‘thing’ had made of the sergeant’s face, he cowardly drove off. The sergeant hobbled back to the barracks, always peering over his shoulder. But there was no further sign of the beast. With wounds tended to he told the tale of the demon cat; over four feet in length, with large fangs; how it had sprung onto his back in the still of night. But the medical officer believed that maybe the sergeant had had a violent row with his girlfriend.

Maybe the ‘Winwick demon’ still lurks around Warrington, waiting to sink its fangs into its next victim.


There will not be a disco at next year's Weird Weekend cocktail party. It was too loud and encourages the rowdier element. It even encourages otherwise sober pillars of the community within the CFZ to behave noisily. I think that my singalongasteveignorant to White Punks on Hope by CRASS, especially the bit where Senor Ignorant is bemoaning the fact that boring politics will get us all shot, and that Anarchy and Freedom is all he wanted, was probably not the best move I could have made. Neither was playing We hate you Little Girls by Throbbing Gristle to clear the dance floor.

However, look who has expressed an interest in playing the Weird Weekend next year:

My neighbours will be impressed.


Dear Naomi and Richie have been carrying out some work for me in Texas in conjunction with the infamous blue dog of Elmendorf. They were visiting rancher Devin Macanally when he pointed out what he descibed as a `chameleon`.

Well, it ain't a chameleon because they are exclusively old world creatures (although they have apparently been introduced to California) but my knowledge of Texas herps is not good enough to say anything more than "ummmm it's a lizard".

So over to you. (I suspect that Scottie a.k.a retrieverman will be the first with a positive ID)


My postbag - metaphorical, electronic and physical - continues to be full of nice things. In the past 24 hours I have received lots of interesting emails, including three book proposals (all three of which I shall probably accept), and a couple of attempts to flog me a mail order bride from Kazakhstan, which I probably won't. One wife is enough for me, thank you!

However, I have received a copy of the new Gong album, which I will be reviewing in the next few days once I can think of an excuse to do so, and a request for me to interview Gong head honcho Daevid Allen, who I used to know quite well at one time, and who I have not seen in donkey's years. Again, I shall certainly do so, once I have figured out a way to get him into a daily magazine that is supposed to be dealing with cryptozoology and allied disciplines. If anyone can think of any half decent excuse for me to do so, please let me know.

The nicest, and most unexpected thing to arrive in my e-mail inbox in the past 24 hours was a generous and very sweet donation from Lindsay Selby. Dear girl, you really shouldn't have. But thank you.

Guys, I am completely overwhelmed by all this kindness. I really do not know what we would do without you....


For the second year running, we will be broadcasting the Weird Weekend (almost) in its entirety here on CFZtv. There were a couple of glitches due to technical problems beyond our control, but on the whole everything went well, so 95% of the conference will be up in the next days....


For the second year running, we will be broadcasting the Weird Weekend (almost) in its entirety here on CFZtv. There were a couple of glitches due to technical problems beyond our control, but on the whole everything went well, so 95% of the conference will be up in the next days....

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


It’s Movie Monday and I should probably post a link to a film trailer or something shouldn’t I? Let’s see; last week we had serial killers so in the interests of balance, that can only mean one thing:


And now, the news:

How a search for the world's most endangered animals turned into an agonising ordeal for Stephen Fry

African Experts Study Escaped Hippos in Colombia

Wildlife springs to life

Stolen monkeys found in Durg

Zoological park receives star tortoises, white peacocks and parakeets

Zoology department to celebrate centenary

Did two species mix to make butterflies?

Did you hear about the larval butterfly that always helped the others on his nettle?

He was a cater-pillar of the community.

And with that stinker of a pun, I’m leaving YNT in the either the capable beak of Attila the Hen or possibly some other fine fellow for the next few days as I’m off to the bright lights of Plymouth once again. See you all in a few.