Humanzees…Eww Bili Apes…Aww

I’ve always found the idea of scientists “monkeying around” with animal hybridization experiments rather vulgar and unnatural. Mother Nature knows beyond a shadow of a doubt what she is doing. In my opinion, she needs no help or interference from humans. One cryptid I am absolutely NOT a fan of is the fabled “Humanzee”, for just this reason.

Humanzees are reportedly a human chimpanzee hybrid that are created in science labs through artificial insemination or various other more diabolical methods. There is very well documented evidence that in the 1920’s a scientist named Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov actually conducted such experiments. Fortunately, his attempts to create such a grotesque race of creatures failed miserably. Or, so I have read, at least.

Don’t get me wrong. I love chimpanzees. I used to always want a pet monkey as a child, but quickly abandoned that idea as I started studying them in depth and learned that most primates are naturally aggressive and highly unpredictable, especially upon reaching sexual maturity. In fact, according to the HSUS, since 1990, there have been over 230 primate attacks on humans here in the USA alone.

Chimpanzees are extremely strong, unbelievably strong actually. Even small primates can inflict massive bite wounds, even in some cases ripping off fingers, toes, ears, and noses. Primates also carry many diseases that can be fatal to humans, such as Herpes B, HIV, and Rabies. Sure, these creatures look cute and cuddly, but it is far better to let them live in their natural environments than to risk death by keeping them as pets.

Regular readers of my blog know that I am not a huge fan of the exotic pet industry. That just goes without saying. But, what does this have to do with humanzees? Well, let me share my logic regarding attempts to create human chimpanzee hybrids.

Knowing that a full grown adult chimpanzee poses a major threat to any human it may encounter, can you imagine what an ape that had the intelligence of a human, especially if it had the knowledge of how to use weapons, would be capable of doing?

For example, if a male humanzee has an argument with one of his siblings, what would stop him from breaking out of his cage, escaping the laboratory, and killing any and every living thing he encounters in the outside world? Probably nothing short of a very strong firearm in the hands of a very skilled sniper. It seems to me as though it would be like trying to fight Superman’s Evil Twin, on steroids, times like a bazillion.

Humanzees are a very bad idea. Very, very, very BAD. As it turns out, however, there is a creature that already exists that may be very similar to the mythological Humanzees. Say what? Oh yes. Absolutely. Well, not exactly…but, fairly close, anyway.

Am I talking about Bigfoot? Nope. But the creatures I am about to tell you about will definitely be a huge hit with fans of Bigfoot, and maybe even fans of the movies “King Kong” and “Planet of the Apes”. In fact, I personally adore these fellows.

In 2003, scientists in the Dominican Republic of the Congo discovered a new species of chimpanzee called the Bili Ape, or Bondo Mystery Ape. These primates can grow to a height of 5 and a half to almost 6 feet tall. Considering that most adult chimpanzees grow to an average height of around 4 feet, these chimps are gigantic in comparison.

I was so excited when I came across this information. I have mentioned in previous blogs that monkeys are very adept at remaining hidden. Who would have imagined that such massively large creatures could go undetected for such a long period of time?

The natives of that region have actually known about Bili Apes all along, although not many of them actually encounter them. These animals are very elusive, and quite possibly exceedingly rare.

Many of the local tales about these apes include speculation that they kill lions. Recently, a scientist did observe a Bili Ape snacking on the remains of a dead lion, although he had no idea if the ape was the actual animal that killed the lion or not.

I am extremely intrigued by these creatures. Not much is known about them at all. It is very difficult for scientists to study animals in the Congo, due to the civil unrest in that region.

I did, however, find a few websites with a little information and a few photographs of these magnificent creatures. If you are interested in learning more about Bili Apes, simply do an internet search for “Lukuru Foundation”, “Jane Goodall Institute”, and “Congolese Wildlife Authority”. These are the most reliable and accurate sources you will find in regards to educational and factual information on Bili Apes. The Lukuru Foundation also has a video of Bili Apes of Youtube. The video is only 40 seconds long, but I find myself continually hitting the “play” button over and over. LOL.

I would love to know more about them. If anybody can recommend any other websites, or has any other relevant information, I would really appreciate if you were kind enough to share it with me. I really would like to write a more in-depth article on these fascinating chimps.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Keep your eyes, ears, and camera lenses open. You never know just what kind of critters you may encounter. One simply never knows.

Oh, and be sure to keep an eye out for escaped pet monkeys. And bear in mind, they CAN and probably WILL bite…and bite HARD. Safety first, my friends. Always.

Cryptid Sillyness – Happy Valentine’s Day

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Tea For Two

Kraken to Nessie: “Shall I lend you a hand, dear?”

Nessie to Kraken: “Aye! That would be lovely. Thanks.”

Note to Graham: Nessie and Kraken having tea is a lovely concept, yet I think Nessie might find it rather physically challenging to get the cup up to her mouth, given the length of her neck and the relative shortness of her flippers. LOL. You’ve given me a wonderful idea for a children’s book, though. Thank you.

Hello fellow bloggers and monster fans,

I realize I have not made a post in quite some time. I have been busy with other “research”, actually. I thought perhaps it could be fun for some of my readers to give this a try, so I have decided to share my adventures in my place with all of you.

With the harsh Indiana winter in full swing, I am overjoyed to have discovered that I need not even leave my own house to have fun exploring my surroundings.

Being the generally nervous type of person that I am, I made the decision to install security cameras in my home. I love it! I have been having so much fun debunking suspected paranormal activity.

The very first night, I happened to notice a massive quantity of what appeared to be orbs. Orbs are balls of light that appear when a ghost chooses to gather energy from its environment in order to try to materialize. It is sort of the spirits’ way of saying, “Can you see me now?”

It did not take me long to figure out that my ghost lights were nothing more than dust particles. I was oddly relieved and disappointed at the same time. So, I grabbed my Swiffer and tackled the dust bunnies that had apparently been breeding uncontrollably for an indeterminate amount of time in my humble abode.

The very next day, I reviewed the footage the cameras had recorded overnight. It looked as though several dark shadow figures had been walking back and forth across the length of my closet all night long.

Just as I was debating whether or not to pick up the phone and call in the Ghost Adventures Crew, I noticed that these dark figures looked very uniform in nature. So, I switched back to live viewing mode and saw that these pacing specters were marching in front of the camera right in the moment, as well. It was simply a loose connection that needed tightened up in back of the recording box. Bummer! I’ve always had such a huge crush on Mr. Aaron Goodwin, too.

A couple of weeks later, I noticed shadows drifting up and down my staircase. I bravely walked upstairs and soon discovered that the shadows were being caused by clouds drifting past the sun. I closed the curtains in the reading room, and the mysterious entities quickly vanished from view.

I am quite proud of my ghost hunting debunking skills now. I also sleep much better at night because of the fact that if I hear strange noises I can easily see what is causing them. It is a little tricky at times, due to the fact that sometimes what I think I am seeing is something else entirely. I am also learning a great deal about cameras, as an added bonus.

I plan on buying a few more cameras. I have been hearing an occasional scratching and a few loud thuds coming from the attic at night. I really want to put a camera in there to help solve this mystery. My theory is that it is probably either a squirrel or a raccoon. I have to wonder if it could be a colony of creepy insects, too. I did see a very ominous looking stag beetle that was at least three inches long crawl across the bedroom floor a couple of months ago. That is, by far, luckily, the scariest thing the cameras have picked up, as of yet.

Home security cameras are so much fun. I definitely recommend that everybody should consider buying some and putting them inside and outside your homes.

I’m off to the store now to buy a few more cameras. I definitely want to get some set up outside, too. You see, I have a rather odd situation with a rather large deer. At least I think I do.

I hear a loud thud on the back side of the house every now and then late at night. I’m always too frightened to look outside to find the source of the noise right after I hear it. I would probably faint if I looked out the window and saw some huge, hairy beast staring back at me, be it either human or animal or perhaps a mixture of the two.

The day after this thud happens, I look outside and every single time I see a very large set of single deer tracks. I am quite perplexed at why the fellow feels the urge to ram into the side of the house.

At least, I think it is a deer. I hope so. Perhaps it could be the Jersey Devil. I doubt it. I am not very near to New Jersey. I did also see a television show about feral hogs a few nights ago. I don’t know if we have those in Indiana or not. I’ve never heard any of the locals mention them. One never knows. One simply never knows. 🙂 It sure is fun trying to find the truth, though.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you all have a fantastic Valentine’s Day.

Carnivorous Plants and B Movies

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I’ve not written a post for quite some time now. Simply have not had either the time or the inspiration to do so, actually. Until… (cue the inevitable “DUN DUN DUN!!!” sounds which frequently occur in most great “B” movies when something profound is about to take place)… I found myself watching “King Ghidorah” (copyright 1964 by Toho Studios) and a few other Godzilla movies while sitting on the couch suffering through the flu.

Perhaps it was the combination of having a high fever, listening to “Dead Flowers” by the Rolling Stones, watching monster movies, and being bored beyond belief that triggered the odd train of thoughts which lead me to the creation of this blog. More likely, though, it is merely a by-product of the strange manner in which my brain tends to normally operate, especially while under the influence of massive doses of cough medicine.

There is no better way to spend a sick day, nay entire sick WEEK, than to watch Godzilla movies, eat tons of ice cream, and wrap up in a nice warm wool blankie on the sofa, in my opinion. While watching this magnificent movie monster marathon, my mind drifted to memories of other not your run of the mill, ordinary, everyday type of movies I have watched and have quite an affinity for. Perhaps the most unique of those movies is one titled “Little Shop of Horrors”.

Wikipedia defines “Little Shop of Horrors” as “an American Rock Musical Horror Comedy”. The original film, which was produced in the 1960’s was a low budget production that was directed by Roger Corman. In 1986, the film was remade with a much, much larger budget, yet oddly still has that wonderful cheesy, low budget effect which I find absolutely endearing. Frank Oz directed the 1986 version, which stars Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, and several other well-known actors.

I would hate to give away the storyline for those of you who have not watched the movie and may wish to do so, but I will tell you that the star of the show is a plant. This plant is not your run of the mill, ordinary, everyday houseplant. Audrey the Second is a ginormous, man eating, carnivorous, sort of “Venus Fly Trappy” plant which was created by a rather odd flower shop employee.

I started wondering if there could be any factual basis for such a peculiar concept as a man eating plant. So, of course, I consulted with Mr. Google, and was rather disappointed with my findings, at least, to an extent.

I discovered that there are carnivorous plants, but most of them only eat insects. Most of them are extremely small, as well. For instance, probably the most well-known carnivorous plant, the Venus Fly Trap, is nowhere near large enough to swallow a human. These tiny little critters also lack the ability to reach out and grab people. They simply sit around waiting for a bug to land on them. Quite often, the insects manage to escape the plant before it is able to fully close up and capture the bug. Once the Venus Fly Trap closes, it can take up to 12 hours for it to open back up again.

Not very scary at all. In fact, these little plants should be far more frightened of humans than humans should be of them. The National Wildlife Federation lists the Venus Fly Trap as “vulnerable”, with an estimated less than 33,000 plants left in the wild. In some counties in North Carolina, it is now a felony to take Venus Fly Trap plants from the wild.

I remember many moons ago, my parents bought one of these for my little brother when he was around 10 years old. I believe he saw it advertised on a comic book or something. Needless to say, the plant did not do all it was advertised to do, and was far smaller than depicted. My brother quickly grew bored with his new “toy” after he fed it a chunk of hamburger meat and it stayed closed for several days. I believe he thought he could just stand there and continuously feed it meat until it grew to be ten feet tall or something. The poor little plant only lasted for about a month before withering and dying. This is a perfect example of how very impressionable young children are by sensationalized advertising campaigns.

Most carnivorous plants are actually very small. The largest one, the Nepenthes Rajah, from Borneo, can grow to be as large as 16 inches long. It is actually capable of consuming a rat or a small mammal. Yet, it is incapable of reaching out and grabbing its prey. Like the Venus Fly Trap, Nepenthes Rajah simply sits and waits for food to come to it.

Continuing research lead me to a story of a man eating tree. A man named Edmund Spencer wrote an article for the New York World, which contained a letter from a man named Karl Liche that told of a native woman from the Mkodo tribe in Madagascar being sacrificed to a tree in 1874.

This story was debunked in 1955 by science author Willy Ley in his book “Salamanders and Other Wonders”. It turns out the whole story, including the tree, the tribe, and Karl Liche were completely fabricated.

I am rather relieved to know that when I choose to venture into an orchard or forest, trees won’t smack my hand for picking one of their apples. Hmmm…that reminds me of another great movie I can add to my watch list later. I am also a tad bit disappointed that my story concept really has no substance.

It is common knowledge that humans should avoid a variety of plants which could cause them injury, discomfort, and possibly even death. Many plants and trees have sharp thorns which can scratch people if you accidentally rub up against them. There are also plants and trees which can give humans immensely itchy rashes. If ingested internally, there are even some plants which can kill people, due to the toxins which they contain.

I’ve also come across an article about a non-carnivorous plant which is rather frightening looking, mostly due to its enormous size. The Corpse Plant is just so eerie. Not only does it have a rather macabre name, but it also can grow up to ten feet tall. And, perhaps the worst thing about it is the scent. It apparently smells like rotten animals decomposing. If I were to have a nightmare about any plant, the Corpse Plant would be it. A gigantic flower that smells like dung? How weird is that?

However, do bear in mind that plants and trees have no malicious intentions. I mean, they are not capable of plotting to seek out and destroy humans. Or, are they? Mwah ha ha ha. 😉 Scientists are always discovering new species of life, both plant and animal. After all, as I often state repeatedly, blog after blog after blog, anything is possible.

Thanks for reading, fellow bloggers. I believe it’s time for me to turn off the TV and get some sleep now. If I could only remember where I put that bottle of weed control spray… Perhaps I should cut down on the amount of cold medicine I have been taking. 🙂 Good cheer, good luck, and good health to you all!

Eye of Newt? Meh, Only On Tuesdays. :-)

Up until this point in time, the majority of my posts have been about “monsters” of the furry variety. Animals with sharp fangs and claws that tend to give small children nightmares and keep adults awake at night have been the main topics of my studies.

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought now would be a great time to analyze one of the most truly misunderstood groups of alleged monsters I have ever had the privilege of investigating, witches.

For the purpose of this article, I am presenting you with a summary of an interview with, believe it or not, a real witch. I have chosen not to reveal the witch’s name in order to protect her identity.

I would also like to state that this interview may present alternate religious viewpoints, and I would like to request that readers refrain from sending me derogatory or inflammatory comments after reading this article. I don’t enjoy participating in religious debates, nor do I wish to try to convert anybody to any religious affiliation by printing this article. I am merely trying to debunk the various myths and misinformation which have been associated with witches for centuries. With that being said, on to the interview now.

Question #1: How long have you been a witch?

Answer: I have been a sole practitioner of the craft of the wise for over 20 years now. I was raised Southern Baptist by my parents, and never felt I quite fit in with that religion. In my early 20’s, I worked with a lady who was Wiccan. I asked her several questions about the Wiccan religion, and she very politely answered them. I was just as misinformed as the majority of the population is about this religion before I met her. From there, I purchased several books about Wicca and just decided it was the right choice for me.

Question #2: What is the Wiccan religion?

Answer: Wicca is a positive, nature based religion that is very similar to Native American spirituality. Some religions are monotheistic, which means they worship only one God. Wicca is polytheistic, which means several members of this faith worship more than one God and/or Goddess. Most major religions all believe in the same basic, general tenet, which is to treat others as you would like to be treated. The Wiccan rede is actually: “An ye harm none, do as ye will”. This basically means do whatever you feel like doing, so long as you don’t harm anyone in the process. And, I would also like to let it be known that many Wiccans are environmentalists, conservationists, and quite a lot of us are vegan.

Question #3: Do you worship Satan?

Answer: The vast majority of Wiccans do not believe in the devil. We view him as sort of a creation of puritanical Christians…a boogeyman they manufactured to help enforce their ideas of morality. It would be rather counterproductive to worship someone, who in my opinion, does not exist.

Question #4: Do you put curses on people?

Answer: No. I firmly believe in the law of karma. If I wish for bad things to happen to people, three times that amount of bad energy would come back to me. For instance, if I wished for someone to get a wart, chances are I would get three warts. I simply avoid people who do not like me. Life is too short to spend time hanging around with negative people.

Question #5: Do you perform human and/or animal sacrifices?

Answer: Definitely NOT!!! Wiccans feel that all life is sacred, plant, animal, and human. This has been one of the biggest lies ever told about our religion. It is sad that even in today’s society, there are still people who believe such utter nonsense. There are no documented cases of any witch, anywhere, from the beginning of time to the present day, ever making a human or an animal sacrifice.

Question #6: Do you use body parts of animals and/or humans to make potions with?

Answer: No. Many Wiccans believe in the healing properties of nature. Many of them are experts on herbs. Over the course of history, herbalism was thought of as a form of sorcery or black magic. If a person were caught making any sort of potion, they could have been tried as a witch and hung.

So, many moons ago, herbalists started recording the ingredients they used in their various “potions” in coded language. For instance, “eye of newt” is actually either a daylily or mustard seed, and “adder’s tongue” is actually a plant known as dogstooth violet. Trust me, no actual human or animal body parts are used in the process of making any potions. So, no need for newts to fear us, what-so-ever. We definitely don’t follow the little critters around, hoping to gauge one of their eyes out. Even the thought of it is simply barbaric.

Question #7: Do you fly around on brooms?

Answer: Only those of us that work at NASA and are lucky enough to have a broom with a jet pack attached to it. I am not certain where that notion came from, although I suspect it may have something to do with the fact that many Wiccans do meditate. While in deep meditation, it may be possible to achieve a sense of “flying”. We also sometimes use brooms in certain ceremonies to symbolize sweeping out negative energy. Brooms are also used in Wiccan handfasting (wedding) ceremonies.

Question #8: Do all witches wear black dresses, black robes, and pointy black hats?

Answer: Only on Tuesdays. LOL. The stereotypical image of witches is based on the clothes that were worn by puritanical Christians and early colonists. I guess people liked the image so much that it just stuck throughout the years. And, I should also mention that our faces are typically only green if we have eaten something which disagrees with us.

Question #9: Are male witches called Warlocks?

Answer: Only if you severely dislike them. The vast majority of male witches shun the term warlock because the literal translation of that word is “oath breaker”. Most often than not, if a man proclaims to be a Warlock, he has not actually studied our religion at all.

Question #10: Could you cast a spell to make me a millionaire?

Answer: If I had a nickel for every person who has asked me that, I would be a millionaire. There are various spells for various situations. Most spells do not come to fruition instantly. It takes a lot of preparation and a lot of time to cast a spell correctly.

And, much the same as the Christian concept of prayer, sometimes spells just aren’t answered, or at least not in the way we were expecting them to be answered. Whether or not you ever become a millionaire is up to the higher power that you worship, along with the steps and measures that you take to achieve that goal.

I could, however, advise you to make a budget and suggest ways for you to save money. I like helping people. I am quite human, and not in the least little bit the monster many people think me to be.

So, there you have it, folks. What you just read was a real interview with a real witch. Not much of a monster, at all, is she? Thanks for reading. Blessed Samhain…err, umm, I mean Happy Halloween.

A Zebra, A Giraffe, and A Deer Walk Into A Bar??? :-) (A/K/A The Okapi)

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I simply adore the animal that I am writing about today, for several reasons.

1.  It is just so daggoned CUTE. Even its name is cute. It makes me think of Ms. Betty Boop, batting her eyelashes and coquettishly trying to summon a police officer. “Yoo hoo! Oh, coppy.”

2.  It is, aside from Australia’s Duck Billed Platypus, the most unusual looking animal I have ever seen. In my opinion, being unique is something to be celebrated. I tend to be rather partial to anything that is considered out of the norm.

3. It is a very shy, bashful, and reclusive creature. As a person who possesses the same personality traits, I can totally relate.

4.  Perhaps the most profound reason for my adoration of this animal is that it gives me hope that there may just be other large animals hiding out there somewhere that scientists have yet to discover. Perhaps even my favorite cryptid of all, the infamous Sasquatch. Well…one can hope, anyway.

The story of the Okapi is a fascinating one, indeed. It is also a very sad story, as well.

Deep in the Ituri rainforest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, the native Pygmy tribes had long known of a creature that people from other parts of the world had no idea even existed, the Okapi.

The Okapi is a relative of giraffes. They stand about 5 to 6 feet tall. Lengthwise, they are approximately 8 feet. They can weigh from 450 – 750 pounds. Okapis have rather long necks, large ears, a reddish brown body, white and black stripes on their legs and ankles similar to the markings on zebras, and a remarkably long tongue that is typically anywhere from 14 to 18 inches in length. The males of the species also have short, hair covered horns about 5 to 6 inches long called ossicones. The picture I posted is one I printed and colored from a website called “Super Coloring Pages”. There are several real photos and videos of Okapi on the internet, if you so choose to do a search for them, as well.

Okapis are solitary herbivores. The only time they socialize with others of their kind is to breed. It takes well over a year (from 440 – 450 days) for a mother Okapi to give birth to her calf.

It wasn’t until an explorer by the name of Henry Morton Stanley wrote about them in a press release in 1887 that anyone outside of the Pygmies took notice of these animals. In 1901, remains of a deceased Okapi were sent to London by adventurer Harry Johnston. The remains were studied and described by British zoologist Ray Lancaster.

I find it absolutely enchanting to know that such large animals exist and were only recently discovered. It makes one wonder what other such animals there may also be in this world that nobody knows about.

Okapis have excellent hearing and run away from humans when they hear them approaching. This makes Okapis very difficult to observe in the wild. The fact that the Okapi also live at altitudes of 1600 – 4900 feet in canopy forests adds to the difficulty of trying to study them.

From what has been observed of the creatures, scientists believe that Okapis are an endangered species. Logging and human settlement have caused a drastic reduction in the Okapis natural habitat. They are also hunted for their meat and their skin by poachers.

In 1987, the Okapi Conservation Project was started. Their website is:  http://www.okapiconservation.org. Okapis are now protected by law. However, poachers still pose a major threat to their population. It is estimated that the Okapi population has been cut in half since 1995.

In June of 2012, a horrible gang of poachers, known as the “Mai Mai Rebels”, attached the Okapi Wildlife Reserve and killed 6 human guards and 13 Okapis. The putrid poachers claimed they did so to retaliate against increased enforcement against wildlife poaching and illegal mining.

The lecherous leader of this band of human monsters, Paul Sadala, as well of 42 of his lackey militia members, surrendered to authorities on April 12, 2014. Sadala was killed 2 days later.

I can’t stand people who capture and kill animals for profit. There are a bazillion other ways to make money, for crying out loud. What I really don’t understand is how there is a market for endangered dead animal products. Why would anyone want to buy a purse, belt, rug, or boots made from animal skin?

It’s not like an Okapi can be sheared like a sheep. They do not just walk around naked in the forest, waiting for new fur to grow back. These precious, totally harmless creatures are actually killed just so some heartless, soulless human monster can sell their skin and body parts. This also happens with many other endangered animals, as well. Such as, elephants, rhinos, and tigers to name a few.

Once a species is extinct, there is no bringing it back. If poachers had no people to sell their macabre goods to, there would be no more sadistic slaughter of innocent, rare, elusive, and exotic animals. It is just as simple as that.

If Sasquatch do exist, I really hope that scientists never do confirm their existence. I’ll bet the Okapis wish they had never been officially discovered. The problem with confirming the existence of an animal that is rumored to exist is that it creates a demand for unscrupulous people who will pay ridiculous amounts of money to own parts and/or pieces of that animal for no other reason than to brag about possessing such a rare specimen. Vanity, pure vanity.

The government of Africa is doing a great job of conserving their endangered species now. There are also many zoos that have Okapis in captive breeding programs. I do have great hopes for the survival of this species. With an estimated less than 25,000 of them left in the wild, perhaps I am being overly optimistic. I hope not.

Thanks for reading. Please think twice about buying products made from animal skin, bones, or tusks. Keep in mind that an animal actually had to DIE for that product to be made, and it may very well have been the very last one of its kind. I’d much rather buy an Okapi stuffed animal toy from a zoo or make a donation to the Okapi Conservation Project to help fund their conservation efforts. I really hope these gentle giants will survive and bring joy to many future generations to come.

A Who? A What? Ahool. Gesundheit?

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The “monster” I am writing about today is definitely nothing to sneeze at. The Ahool (named after the noise it reportedly makes) is allegedly a human sized bat that swoops down out of trees, attacks and kills humans. It is described as having large, dark eyes, large claws on its forearms, and a body covered in grey fur with dark brown or reddish colored wings. The Ahool also is said to have a 10 to 12 foot wingspan. The creature supposedly lives in Java, Indonesia, and possibly New Guinea. The Ahool is often described as being either a large bat, a living pterosaur, or a flying primate.

I was unable to locate information regarding specific sightings of the creature. I would love to hear from anybody who has such information available. Please do contact me if you do. The only information I found was that a man named Ernest Bartels was the first person to offer a description of the beast back in 1925.

There are many theories offering possible explanations for the Ahool. Some believe the creature is a large species of bat. This is the theory which I am most apt to believe and which I tend to discuss in this article. I will also mention a few other theories, as well.

There are some people who feel that the Ahool may be a pterosaur, which is a flying reptile that reportedly went extinct 228 to 66 million years ago. Considering the case of the Coelacanth (a fish thought to have been extinct millions of years ago and just recently rediscovered), I believe this is also a very good possible explanation. I do plan to research and write about modern day prehistoric animal sightings in a future blog.

There is also another very logical theory as to the identity of the Ahool. Some believe it may be the Java Wood Owl. These owls have up to a four foot wingspan, a flat face with very little of the beak sticking out, large, dark eyes, and make a call that sounds like “hooh”. These owls live in Java, and have been known to dive bomb out of trees at people when they feel that humans are encroaching upon their territory. The wingspan is quite smaller than that of the Ahool’s reported wingspan. Yet, it is very hard to approximate an accurate size when viewing a moving animal. These owls are very rare and very elusive. They are rarely ever seen.

As for the flying primate theory, well…anything is possible. There are new species of animals discovered quite frequently. Primates are very elusive. I remember watching a TV show once where people were taken inside a primate enclosure and asked to find the monkeys that were inside. Not one person spotted any of the monkeys, although there were several of them inside the enclosure. If there are flying monkeys, it is quite possible that science may never know.

While conducting research for this blog, I also discovered two related cryptids:  the Kongamato and the Olitiau. The Kongamato “breaker of boats” is a creature that reportedly lives in the swamps of Zambia, Angola, and the Congo. It was first reported by Frank Melland in his 1923 book “Witchbound Africa”. Apparently, it lives on certain rivers and is very aggressive and dangerous. It is either red or black, with a four to seven foot wingspan, and likes to attack small boats. Natives are said to have looked at pictures of various creatures and decided that it most closely resembled the picture of a pterosaur. Unfortunately, these creatures live in areas that are sparsely populated. The people that inhabit these regions typically do not own modern appliances, such as cameras.

The Olitiau is also an alleged cryptid relative of the Ahool. These animals are said to live in Central Africa, have a six to twelve foot wingspan, black body, dark brown or red wings, and a lower jaw with two inch long serrated teeth.

I decided to approach my research by studying the “giant bat theory”. I learned so much about bats by doing so. Bats are amazing animals.

I write most of my blogs with an underlying message of animal conservation and peaceful coexistence with our wacky, weird, and wild neighbors of nature. Bats, as I just recently discovered, are facing quite a crisis. According to the website “batconservation.org”, over half the population of North American bats may be in danger of dying from a fungal disease known as White Nose Syndrome. Since 2006, and estimated 5.7 million bats have died from the disease.

Bats are quite essential to keeping our ecosystem in balance. One bat can eat 1,000 to 6,000 insects in one night. They literally eat tons of mosquitoes and other such pests. Bats also help reseed deforested land and help pollinate plants. Contrary to popular belief, bats are not rodents. They are the only known flying mammals. Less than one percent of bats have rabies. However, that is still a rather large number of bats, considering that there are an estimated 1,000 to 1,300 different species of bats and they are estimated to make up nearly one fourth of the total population of mammals in the world.

So, where did bats get such an undeserved bad reputation? Myths and legends and misinformation that has been passed down from generation to generation. Any animal with teeth that flies around at night is bound to be perceived as scary and possibly even evil. Bats are not typically aggressive. They are afraid of humans.

Other myths about bats include the widely held belief that bats are blind. Not so, they simply have rather tiny eyes and use echolocation to help them navigate in the dark. They are also not dirty animals at all. In fact, they groom themselves much the same as cats do. They do not build nests and do not try to get themselves tangled up in human hair.

There are three different species of the often dreaded vampire bat. These bats live in Mexico and Central and South America. They do not actually suck blood out of animals or people. They lick blood instead, mostly from cows and chickens. They also usually only drink about one tablespoon of blood per night..

The largest species of bat is the Malayan Flying Fox Bat. These bats live in Africa, Asia, and Australia. They can weigh as much as two and a half pounds with a six foot wingspan. Their faces resemble a fox face, hence the name. These bats only eat fruit and nectar. They live in large groups, typically in dead trees, caves, bat houses, human constructed buildings, rock crevices, and undersides of bridges. Their status is nearly threatened due to a vast decrease in their primary forest habitat, fruit farmers killing them because of damage to their orchards, and over-harvesting of the bats for human consumption. I cannot imagine that a bat would taste very good, yet I am aware that different cultures have different culinary preferences.

There is a very informative article on the Malayan Fruit Bat on the Oakland Zoo website. If you would like to learn more about these creatures, I highly recommend visiting this site. “www.oaklandzoo.org/Malayan_Flying_FoxBat.php” I had no idea such large bats actually exist.

If the Ahool is an actual creature, I personally feel that it is most likely a yet to be discovered species of bat. As to whether or not they are a threat to humans, I highly doubt it. I wouldn’t recommend walking around in tropical locations (especially inside of caves or underneath bridges) with a pocket full of bugs or bananas at night, though. One simply never knows. Personally, I would love to see a giant bat. I would much rather visit one in a zoo than to encounter one in person in the wild. As always, thanks for reading. 🙂

My Personal “Monster” Encounter

I remember it well. It was a Monday morning not unlike many typical Monday mornings. Having fulfilled my innate need to participate in far too many festive activities over the weekend, I awoke with the desire to smash my loathsome alarm clock with a large mallet until I realized the poor thing was simply performing its intended purpose, to rouse me from my slumber so that I may earn a little money.

Upon realizing that I only had a half an hour to get to my place of employment, I sprang from my bed like a frantic frog on fast forward. I threw on a blouse and some slacks that weren’t too badly wrinkled, cursed at the coffee machine for taking too long, covered the bags under my eyes as best as I could with my make-up (although it would have seemed a feat more fitting for a magician to perform), finished grooming, grabbed a cup of extremely strong coffee, and ran out the front door to my little hatchback car. After realizing I could feel the gravel in my driveway underneath my feet, I then ran back into the house to grab my shoes.

I jumped into my car with 10 minutes remaining before I was due to report for my shift. If I hurried and only broke a few minor land speed records, I could most surely make it on time. I backed out of the drive onto the dirt road that lead to the main highway.

About a quarter of a mile down the dirt road from my house was a little section of road about a quarter of a mile long which the locals in the little village of Woodruff, Indiana refer to as “Lover’s Lane”. It was quite lovely in the daytime, although rather spooky at night.

On either side of the road in Lover’s Lane were densely forested sections of swamp land. There were so many trees on both sides of the road that the branches criss crossed with each other over the top of the road, creating a rather beautiful natural canopy. For fans of spooky campfire tales, such as myself, it was excitingly eerie. I could easily envision the Headless Horseman galloping through there on any given moonless night. There are also many (hopefully fictional) local legends about motorcycle gangs and the mafia burying people they had murdered there.

I had driven halfway through Lover’s Lane when I was confronted with the most frightening experience of my life. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a rather large, white blob plummeting towards me at a high rate of speed. I slammed on the brakes and could not believe my eyes.

Less than three feet in front of my car, standing in the middle of the road, staring straight at me, was some sort of crazily creepy creature. It stood about three feet tall, was covered in white feathers, had a small black beak for a mouth, and its eyes were very similar to “teddy bear“ eyes. Yes…the eyes…the eyes were the most striking feature of all. They were very round, almost perfectly round. The inner portions of the eyes were solid black, and the outer circles of the eyes were a most lovely, topaz yellow color.

I stared at the creature, and it stared back at me. I had no idea what else to do besides stare. I was afraid that if I took my eyes off of it, the thing may fly up onto the hood of the car and try to break the windshield so that it could attack me. The road was far too narrow to drive around the thing. If I honked my horn to try to frighten it away, the creature might startle and decide to attack. So, I stared. I stared and stared for what seemed to be an eternity, although in retrospect, I am quite certain it was probably only a few minutes.

After apparently deciding that he or she was bored with looking at me, the thing took a couple of steps, flapped its enormous wings, and vanished from my sight. I hit the gas and drove the rest of the way through Lover’s Lane. Had I not been frightened to roll down my window, I would have tossed my wickedly strong coffee out the window. I was definitely awake now. More so than I cared to be, actually. My heart was beating so fast that I could feel and hear it in my ears. Even after reaching the main highway, I kept looking in my rearview mirror to reassure myself that the beast was not following me.

Of course nobody at work believed me. They all thought I was either telling a tall tale or perhaps I was still a bit tipsy and off balance from my weekend escapades. I decided it was probably best to keep the incident to myself. Yet, for the next several years, I did all I could to avoid having to drive through Lover’s Lane. I found it rather hard to sleep some nights, as well.

Eventually, I forgot about the whole scenario. That is, until about a decade or so later when I was riding down a country road with a friend and we saw a barn owl sitting on a tree branch off to the side of the road. My heart started racing and I became rather panicked. I rolled up my window and looked at my friend with wide open eyes that were full of terror.

My friend told me I looked as though I had just seen a ghost. Considering that the owl which I had seen was pure white except for the beak and the eyes, I wondered if in fact the creature that I saw that night so long ago may have been some sort of a ghost owl.

I decided to share my story with my friend, and she surprisingly did not consider me to be completely insane. “Hmmm…A three feet tall owl, you say? I wonder if there could be such a thing.” She then suggested we look it up on the internet.

I typed the words “large white owl” into the google search bar on my friend’s pc, and poof! Right there in front of my eyes was the creature I had seen. I couldn’t believe it. After all those years, I finally knew what my “monster” was.

As it turns out, my monster was no monster at all. My monster was, in fact, a Snowy Owl. These owls are native to Canada, although occasionally they do migrate farther South into the northern most regions of the USA. The males of the species are almost pure white and can grow to a length of 28 inches tall. That may not seem very tall, but consider that the size of a piece of notebook paper is 11 inches long. If you tape 2 and a half pieces of notebook paper together lengthwise, that is about how tall this owl was. They are actually quite lovely birds. I would post a picture of one, but I have not yet familiarized myself with the proper way to legally post other people’s pictures on my blog. There are several pictures and videos on the internet if you do a search for “Snowy Owls”.

Snowy Owls are definitely not a cryptid by any stretch of the imagination. Although, to me, personally, they were. I had never seen one before, so it was a newly discovered creature to me. I feel blessed that Mother Nature was kind enough to introduce me to this fascinating creature.

What is the moral to this story, you ask? If you see something abnormal, there really is no good reason to doubt that you saw what you may have seen. With some diligence and a little research, perhaps you can find a logical explanation. Then again, perhaps not. 🙂

My Personal Theory on Werewolves…Keep In Mind, I Am NOT A Scientist, Nor Do I Claim To Be :-)

Lupophobia…the fear of wolves. If you read my blogs regularly, you will soon notice I have an affinity for phobias and their names. I have been afraid of many things over the course of my life, and am now on a quest to conquer these irrational fears by educating myself about them.

Oddly enough, I can honestly say I have never had a fear of wolves. This may be due in large part to the fact that I once owned a pet dog that was part timber wolf and part German Shepherd. I named him Lobo, which means “wolf” in Spanish. He was the best pet anybody could have ever hoped to have. He had a fierce instinct to protect, though. He did actually bite a teenage boy once because the boy was play fighting with one of my sisters. Lobo had no idea the boy was only playing, after all. He was only protecting a member of his “pack” or “family” in his mind. He also bit one of my uncles once when my uncle poured beer into his water bowl. I view this event as Lobo protecting himself, because beer can be toxic to dogs. He was also a bit mischievous at times when he would occasionally get a craving for one of our chickens. Either way, I do not advise owning a wolf hybrid dog as a pet, unless you truly have an understanding of animal behavior, and a very sturdy chicken coop, as well.

People, in general, tend to be very scared of wolves. This is evident by various myths, legends, fables, and fairy tales which have been passed down from generation to generation. A healthy fear of wild animals is not a bad thing. If you examine the message being conveyed by “Little Red Riding Hood”, you will realize that the person who originally created the story was trying to teach us (the readers) that children should NEVER venture into the forest alone. I like to think that the person who created the story was not necessarily anti wolf, although one never knows.

Fearing things and having an unjustified hatred of things are two totally different concepts. It is advisable to have a fear and respect for wild animals, yet just plain ignorant to hate them because you are afraid of them. I feel that the legend of werewolves arose out of the natural tendency of humans to fear wolves.

But, why DO we fear wolves? I have searched and searched and searched for answers to this question. The most logical explanation I can come up with is that most humans mistakenly believe that wolves regularly attack, kill, and eat humans. It appears that a large number of people believe that a wolf would “just as soon eat you as to look at you.” I have found no logical reason as to why so many people think this way.

In all my research, I have only found one reported case of a human allegedly being attacked and eaten by wolves here in the USA. Apparently, a rather petite (4 foot 9 inches tall) school teacher in Alaska was jogging one day, and may have been consumed by wolves in 2010.

Knowing all that I know about wolves, I find this incident to be most peculiar. I tend to think (and this is just my own personal opinion, mind you, as I am biased by my extreme admiration for wolves) that perhaps it were a pack of feral wolf hybrid dogs rather than wild wolves. Feral dogs (dogs that once were pets and ran away from home due to neglect or abuse from their owners) have a natural tendency to dislike and even hate humans. Feral dogs pose a much greater danger to humans than wild wolves because wolves are naturally rather shy and timid in nature, and fear humans, not hate them.

I am posting the web address of the report for you to decide for yourself.  http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/home/news/pdfs/wolfattackfatality.pdf

Wolves typically eat deer, elk, beaver, and rabbits. When wolves hunt, they tend to attack the weak, young, sick, and elderly animals. This may sound a bit bullyish, but all in all, it helps maintain the natural balance of our ecosystem. Wolves rarely attack animals which are bigger than they are. Humans just do not appear as a main course in the wolf menu. They just seem to be too smart to try to tango with humans. Many animal behaviorists also believe that wolves prefer to avoid humans due to the fact that we are bipedal. Wolves do not attack bears (who often stand on their back legs when they feel threatened), and perhaps associate humans as having the same ferocity and strength of bears. I do not know. If only wolves could speak, so I could ask them personally…sigh.

I also believe that wolves are highly intelligent animals and they know that humans frequently carry guns. If I were a wolf, I would be terrified of humans. This could explain why there are so very few wolf human incidents. Wolves are very elusive creatures. Most humans will go their entire life without ever seeing a wolf in the wild. Wolves have very keen eyesight, hearing, and an extremely well developed sense of smell. This means, most often than not, a wolf will detect your presence long before you even know there was a wolf anywhere near you. The wolf will have seen, heard, and smelled you coming and quickly left the area before you would have noticed anything.

With that being said, I do also want to educate you about some general safety tips to consider when you do venture out into the wild. Wild animals are not like domesticated pets. Wolves do not behave like poodles. Yes, they do have sharp, pointy teeth and claws, and yes they will not hesitate to use them, if they feel they need to. Any animal that feels threatened will attack a human. If you are lucky enough to encounter a wolf in the wild, for heaven’s sake, do not attempt to walk up to it and pet it. If it is a female wolf with pups nearby, she may perceive you as a threat. If it is a rabid wolf, you could be in severe danger. If you are able to see a wolf in the wild, chances are, it is due to one of these two scenarios. Simply leave the area as quickly and as quietly as you possibly can. Never leave home without your cell phone, in case you do encounter a potentially dangerous situation.

Wolves rarely ever catch rabies and are not natural carriers of the disease, but when they do get rabies, as is the case with all rabid animals, they are a real danger. I cannot stress this enough.

I do not advise venturing out into the wild solo. There is safety in numbers. Always travel in groups, whenever possible. If you are camping and need to go to the restroom, take a buddy along with you. I do not like guns, but air horns are very effective at scaring animals away. So, I would advise carrying one of those with you. Also, it may be a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly after eating so that animals do not think you smell like a possible meal. Do not store food in your tent. And, food that you do store should be wrapped tightly and placed in a sealed container. Clean all dishes immediately after eating. Paper plates and cups with food debris should be thrown away immediately. All garbage bags should be tied tightly and placed in waste bins.

I would also like to mention that wolf pups are rarely ever abandoned by their parents. If you see a pack of tiny little puppies all huddled together, looking sad  and helpless, leave them be. Mama and papa wolf are most likely out hunting and scavenging for food and will return shortly to care for their precious pups. You may wish to move your campsite and yourselves farther away from that location, as well. 🙂

Wolves are not vicious by nature, but do prefer to be left alone. They would rather run away from you than attack you.

So, where do werewolves fit into this scenario? Humans have always feared wolves. Indeed, many superstitious people used to believe they were associated with the devil himself. Anything with sharp, pointy teeth that can growl could be nothing more than pure evil in their uneducated minds. Humans also tended to fear other humans much more so than we do in modern times back then. Combine the two, and indeed, you have quite a frightful creation. The name werewolf is an Old English term, which is translated as follows; “wer” =man, and “wulf” = wolf. So, therefore, werewolf is literally “man wolf”.

The first reported incident of a werewolf that I could find was way back in 1589 in Germany. An atrocious serial killer by the name of Peter Stubbe had the impression that the devil had given him a girdle made of wolf skin. He believed this girdle (some accounts I read reported it to be a belt rather than a girdle) gave him supernatural strength. He stated that it gave him:  “the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws”. He was convicted of killing 13 children, 2 pregnant women, and his own son, all in a very gruesome manner. He mutilated the dead bodies and drank blood from their veins. His son’s murder was especially heinous because he bashed the boy’s skull open and ate his brain.

Psychologists simply did not exist in those days. Anybody reading this story with even an iota of education would not believe for even a fraction of a second that Mr. Stubbe were actually part wolf. It is beyond evident that the man was extremely insane. Yet, for the people of that time period, it did seem possible. And, extremely terrifying. Psychology was a nonexistent field of study, and there was no internet to conduct research with available to them. All they knew was what they had learned from listening to their friends and neighbors, and from reading the Bible.

To ensure that this serial killer, whom they honestly believed to be part man and part wolf, would not resurrect himself after death they executed him in a very volatile (although in my opinion not unwarranted considering the gruesomeness of his crimes) fashion. His skin was peeled off of him. His arms and legs were broken. He was decapitated. Then, all of his body parts were burnt.

Another possible reason for the belief in werewolves is nowhere near as terrifying as the insane serial killer scenario. Native Americans often wore animal skins in ceremonies. I also have a theory (and I may be way off base here) that throughout history people may have witnessed some of the early Native American ceremonies and been scared witless by what they saw. A person dancing around a campfire with a wolf skin draped over top of them may indeed appear to look like a half human, half wolf creature that has risen straight from the depths of Hell.

I remain skeptical on the topic of werewolves. They are more paranormal than cryptozoological, in my opinion. I am not saying that they do not or could not exist. I just do not personally believe in them. I guess I will actually have to see one to believe it.

I find it extremely sad that so many people have such strong hatred of wolves based on a simple fear of wolves, though. In the not so distant past, here in the USA, former President Theodore Roosevelt claimed that wolves were “beasts of waste and destruction” and helped to establish a policy calling for all wolves to be eradicated. This policy offered monetary rewards for killing wolves. This plan almost succeeded in bringing about the complete extinction of wolves.

I thank the Gods that the wolves were strong enough and smart enough to survive such brutal carnage. Their population once dropped to as few as 300 wolves, and is now not a whole lot better than that but slowly improving. There are estimated to be approximately 4 to 5 thousand wild wolves living in the USA today. It saddens me because there once used to be nearly 250 to 500 thousand wolves living here.

Wolves are essential. They are smart, beautiful, sentient beings. They were here long before we (humans) were. Wolves are NOT monsters. I have trouble saying the same for humans, sometimes, given our history of dealing with things which frighten us. Simply because we fear something does not give us the right to eliminate it. Okay, yep, you guessed it. I AM a wolf advocate. And, I DO STAND FOR WOLVES. 🙂 Werewolves? Well, that remains to be seen. LOL.

Precarious Pachyderm Peanut Pursuit Predicament (a/k/a The Story of Modoc, the Elephant)

Pachydermophobia…the fear of elephants. Oddly enough, I am afflicted with this condition. Elephants are not native to Indiana, nor to the entire USA, actually. Yet, I am quite frightened of them. I do admire them, as they are beautiful creatures. Yet, I do have an irrational fear of them. It may be due to the fact that I had a couple of rather scary encounters with them in the past at circuses.

The first incident was when I visited a circus in my teen years, actually rode an elephant with about 10 other people, and had an extremely difficult time dismounting due to the fact that the elephant did not want to stop the ride. The other incident was shortly after my daughter was around 5 years old. I took her to a circus, and we walked past the area where elephant rides were being given. One of the elephants veered off course slightly, staring straight at me and Lisa, and it scared me nearly half to death. The handler quickly set the elephant back on course, yet it was still a scary experience.

I no longer visit circuses. I did some research on them and find them to be quite tortuous to the poor animals which are forced to perform in them. In fact, I believe we have all at some point or another probably seen footage of circus elephants going on a rampage. It is not really the elephant’s fault, though. Being kept in captivity would be enough to make any rational being (whether human or animal) go irrevocably insane. I also learned that the most prevalent method used for training elephants is to whack them on the legs with a long metal pole which contains a razor blade at the end of it. I find this to be entirely sadistic and completely inexcusable.

Well, I would like to share the story of one such elephant with you. This story turned out quite well, fortunately. However, that is rarely the case whenever an OOP (out of place) animal manages to escape its imprisonment.

I first learned about Modoc, the elephant when I lived in Wabash, Indiana for a period of around 3 years. The apartment building I lived in was a place I never would have imagined I could have even considered moving into. Why? Well, you see the sidewalk in front of the building is decorated with statues of elephants. Even more traumatic to someone suffering from pachydermophobia is the fact that when one enters the coffee shop on the ground floor of the apartment building, there are pictures of elephants, elephant figurines, elephants on post cards, elephant t-shirts, basically any and every thing you could possibly place an image of an elephant on had one.

Modoc’s Market, in addition to having perhaps the best coffee in Indiana and a wide assortment of scrumptious homemade candies, was very obviously pro elephant in every way. Although I am frightened of the mammoth creatures, I do find them quite fascinating. Perhaps some exposure therapy would help alleviate my irrational fear, as well. I believe it did help a little, actually, although admittedly I will not be signing up for an African safari adventure anytime in the near future.

It was there where I learned the story of Modoc. The owner of this establishment is a very lovely, most congenial person. She told me the story of Modoc, the elephant, and it was a very profound “Awww” moment for me. I felt as though Modoc, the elephant must surely have been one of the smartest, most daring creatures I had ever heard of. Best of all, the story is completely true.

I shall recount a brief summary of it for you. Yet, if you prefer to read a more colorful, detailed version of the account I recommend visiting the Modoc’s Market website. http://www.modocsmarket.com/modoc’s_legacy.htm

In the 1940’s, there was a traveling circus visiting Wabash, Indiana. Three elephants escaped, and two were quickly recaptured. The third elephant, Modoc, apparently was a sly creature, indeed. Modoc managed to elude capture, wander into downtown Wabash, knock over a peanut vending machine located at a local pharmacy, munch on the salty treats until she had her fill, and then quickly escape by knocking down the back wall of the building. It took five days for her to be captured and returned to the circus. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured, including Modoc. 🙂

Rarely is this sort of scenario the case in regards to OOP (out of place) animals, though. Many times when people place animals in situations where they do not feel comfortable, the outcomes can be fatal to the animal and even humans nearby. I could list several incidents that had much more tragic endings, yet I prefer to refer you to some sites where you may browse them at your leisure.

You may wish to visit the Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and of course, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). I also found a very well written, very well oganized list of elephant human incidents while doing research for this article. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of it, although the author does seem to know what they are talking about and sites the same sources that I just previously mentioned, PAWS, PETA, and the HSUS. Here is a link to that article:  http://docs.burningbird.net/circus/elephantlist.pdf

The life of a circus animal is indeed a sad existence. I, and many others who share my belief, have decided to simply stop visiting circuses. If the circus makes no money, there will be no need for animals to be placed in such horrendous circumstances. Animals are being recognized as sentient beings, with feelings, worthy of being treated with respect, in our modern, enlightened society. People are starting to realize the errors of our past ways. Hopefully, one day soon, there will be no more circuses. Until then, I blog.

I do recommend that if you ever travel to Indiana that you consider visiting Modoc’s Market. The market is located where the pharmacy that Modoc visited used to be. I find it wonderfully enriching that they were able to embrace the story of a wayward elephant and indeed celebrate Modoc’s brief but adventurous, bold, and brave attempt at gaining freedom. The people there are all so friendly, and they do indeed have great coffee. And, for anybody who is an elephant fan, and not afflicted with pachydermophobia, it is a purely delightful place to visit. 🙂

Oscar, The “Beast” of ‘Busco

Considering the fact that I live in Indiana, I find it most appropriate to start my “mini monster log” with one of Indiana’s own notorious “monsters”. Do please bear in mind, as I will repeat exhaustively throughout this blog, that “monster” is a term which people tend to apply to things which they see and cannot quite explain. Things which frighten people are instantly deemed “monsters”, although in reality they may just be a rare or elusive creature.

I live about a half an hour away from the place where the creature I am going to discuss with you was reportedly sighted. Out of all the cryptids I have researched, I, personally, feel that this one may be the most plausible of them all.

So, who is Oscar? Is he an over sized, walking, talking, fire-breathing, hot dog? Nope. Oscar, my friends, is a turtle. What? Yep. A turtle. Sounds like a scene right out of a “Godzilla” movie, doesn’t it?

Oscar is reportedly a giant turtle that was sighted in Churubusco, Indiana, not so very long ago. Oscar is named after the man who owned the property where the “beast” was first seen, Mr. Oscar Fulk. The property contains a seven acre lake, which is the place where all the sightings occurred. Apparently, Mr. Charles Fulk (whom I am assuming is some sort of relative of Oscar, although it is not clearly stated in any of the reports I have studied) was the first person to see the giant turtle in 1898. Of course, many people were quick to dismiss the eyewitness testimony of only one man. Giant turtles? In Indiana? Oh sure.

Yet, in 1948, the elusive lake dweller was once again spotted…this time by at least 3 people. Mr. Ora Blue and Mr. Charley Wilson supposedly saw Oscar while they were fishing at the lake. The owner of the property at this time, Mr. Gale Harris, also reported having seen the ginormous turtle.

This rash of sightings prompted a massive search for the beast. Keep in mind that there were no high tech machinery or equipment available to the searchers at the time. The lake was even partially drained using a sump pump, to no avail. It quickly filled back up again with rain water.

However, on October 13, 1949, it is alleged that almost 200 people saw Oscar as he momentarily came to the surface of the lake to try to grab a duck that was being used as a lure. Fishing for turtles with ducks? Only in Indiana…lol. I can say that because I live here. 🙂 There have been no further sightings since then.

I question the validity of the story, yet am highly optimistic that it could be at least partially true.

I wish there would have been more specific information stated about the beast. For instance, people said it was “as big as the top of a car” or “as big as a dinner table”. Well, cars and tables both come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Also, I would love to know just how much of the turtle was visible when those 200 people reported seeing it. Was it just the head? Or, could they see its shell, as well? If so, how much of the shell was visible, and for how long? It would be rather fascinating to be able to either read documentation of the eyewitness testimony, or actually talk to one of the original witnesses in person, if there are any still living.

It would also be interesting to know if there were any local pet shops at the time that might have sold exotic turtle breeds. Apparently, two men (who were known pranksters) actually bought a giant sea turtle from somewhere (although it is not stated precisely where they purchased it from) and claimed that they had caught Oscar. Who’s to say they were not the same men who might have started the whole Oscar phenomena to begin with? They later confessed to their fraud, though. Again, however, the reliability of all these reports is suspect due to lack of specific information.

I wondered if such a large turtle could possibly live in Indiana. So, of course, I did what I always do when curiosity gets the best of me…I googled it. I do caution you, though, when doing research keep in mind that anybody can post anything on the internet. I try to use sites that I know are legitimate for my research. For this research, I visited the Indiana DNR (Department of Natural Resources) website. I also searched for information on a turtle conservation website, which I am certain contains factual information.

I discovered many fascinating facts about turtles by conducting my research. For instance, there is a species of turtle that can grow up to 5 feet and weigh as much as 700 pounds, the Green Sea Turtle. They also live as long as 150 years. It is well known that sea turtles are NOT native to Indiana. However, if one were purchased and placed in Fulk Lake, it may be possible that Oscar could have indeed been a credible cryptid sighting. However, a sea turtle placed in a fresh water lake would not live very long. If this is the truth to the story, I cringe. I sincerely hope it is not what happened.

There are 18 species of turtles that are native to Indiana:  common snapper, common musk, eastern box, common map, false map, quachita map, red eared slider, eastern painted, midland painted, western painted, midland smooth soft shell, eastern spiny softshell, alligator snapper, eastern mud, spotted, blandings, ornate box, and hieroglyphic river cooter.

Out of the 18 native species of turtles, the largest is the alligator snapping turtle. The average adult size is 2 feet long and weight of around 155 to 175 pounds. Although there have been reports of some that are close to 3 feet and weighing as much as 250 pounds.

Could Oscar have been an alligator snapping turtle? Anything is possible, yet I have my doubts. Alligator snapping turtles are extremely rare in Indiana. The last confirmed sighting of an alligator snapper in Indiana was in 1991, in White River, Morgan County, Indiana. This is about two and a half hours South of Churubusco. They prefer to stay farther South in warmer climates and rarely ever migrate this far north.

In conclusion, I have to say that Indiana’s Oscar, our treasured “Beast of ‘Busco” is destined to remain a mystery, for now.

I would also like to state that it is never a good idea to keep any turtle as a pet. They do bite. They bite hard, in fact. I think of them as sort of “snakes in a shell”. You would be surprised at how fast they can snap their heads out of their shells in order to defend themselves from anything they may perceive to be a threat. Turtles also carry salmonella. This is a disease which causes intense intestinal upset. It can be fatal to the elderly, the young, and anybody with a weak immune system. You do not have to touch a turtle to catch this disease, either. The bacteria can live on any surface which the turtle comes into contact with.

As is the case with all the wonderful, weird, wacky, and wild animals you may see in your own backyard from time to time, the best plan of action is to admire them from afar. If possible, take pictures or video, too. Then, look them up on google. It can be quite a fun way to learn about nature. I know I definitely enjoy being a “couch cryptozoologist”.  Have fun. Learn. And, first and foremost, BE SAFE. 🙂