Jonathan Downes: Director; Graham Inglis: Deputy Director;
Richard Freeman: Cryptozoologist




For immediate release:

A motorist is driving through a remote rural area at night. He sees something move by the side of the road. A badger? Too large it must be a deer. But as he nears the object it becomes apparent it is like nothing he has ever see before. Rearing up on two legs like a man the thing is 8 feet tall and covered in shaggy hair. Its eyes burn red in the car's headlights as the startled driver floors the pedal.

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a report of the Sasquatch or Bigfoot in North America but it is not. It happened here, in Britain - and similar encounters are being reported up and down the country today. Such reports are normally few and far between, but over the last six weeks there has been a proliferation of them unparalleled in British history.

The creatures have been reported from a wood in Sussex, from Lancashire, from Sherwood Forest, from Scotland, and most notably from the vicinity of Bolam Lake in rural Northumberland. One of the first witnesses described how he saw "a dark figure", which "looked about 8ft tall, heavy built, its eyes, or what seemed to be its eyes, glowed in the darkness." There have been several other reports, which seem to be startlingly similar.

These accounts are so impressive that Britain's foremost team of professional monster hunters are travelling to Northumberland next week in order to investigate the phenomenon. The four-man team from the Centre for Fortean Zoology, based in Exeter, hit headlines all around the world last year when they successfully went in search of a monstrous creature that had been attacking swans at a Lancashire Nature Reserve. On that occasion the culprit turned out to be a giant catfish from Eastern Europe. What do they think it is going to be this time?

"Whereas there is very little doubt that creatures such as the yeti or the Orang Pendek of Sumatra are bona fide species of higher primate that have so far escaped detection by scientists, other man beasts from Australia, North America and Europe are far more problematical" says expedition leader Jonathan Downes (43), director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology.

"There simply isn't a suitable climate, habitat, or food source in Britain to support an unknown great ape" says expedition Zoologist Richard Freeman (33), "but then again I would love to be proved wrong". Richard, who studied Zoology at Leeds University and is also a qualified zoo-keeper has worked with all the great apes and will be playing recordings of known ape species and also sounds allegedly made by the North American Sasquatch in an attempt to attract the beast of Bolam Lake. During the week-long expedition the team will also be utilising hi-tech equipment in an attempt to solve this fascinating mystery.

" We are all very excited about this trip" says John Fuller, (40), the newest member of the CFZ Team. " After all how often does one get the chance to confront a medieval folk tale which seems to have come to life?"


The giant ape is a legend found in many countries most famously the Yeti of Asia but few realise that our tiny, overcrowded island is home to such a tradition. In the dark ages such figures were referred to as trolls (via Norse influence) or Woodwoses (from Anglo-Saxon). They are found in folktales right across Europe. The Wildman was a familiar figure in the mumming plays of medieval times, but could these stories have some substance behind them?

The idea of such creatures in the forests of sub-tropical Asia or even the woods of Canada is not too far fetched. Indeed some of the Asian man beasts have been backed up by hair, bone and scat samples. Many zoologists believe the creatures to be descendents of a species of giant ape, Gigantopithecus blackii, thought extinct since the last Ice Age. The fossils of this giant have been uncovered since then in China and India but are unknown in Europe. If such huge primates had ever lived in our country it would be likely that they would have been hunted to extinction along with the bear and the wolf.

The CFZ team intend to follow up their investigations in a Northumberland with expeditions to Sussex and to Sherwood Forest to investigate other recent sightings of similar phenomena.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology is a non profit-making organisation, which was founded in 1992. Over the last 11 years we have mounted expeditions to Central America, Thailand, Mexico, various parts of the United States, as well as numerous investigations in the UK. Further information on the CFZ can be found on their website, Full biographies of Expedition members together with their media CVs can be found on the site.

Pictures of the expedition members are available.

C F Z director Jonathan Downes has written numerous books on the subject of mystery animals. The latest, entitled The monster of the Mere, recounts the 2002 expedition in the search of a giant fish in a Lancashire lake.

The honorary life President of the Centre for Fortean Zoology is renowned explorer, author and soldier Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his pioneering Operation Drake and Operation Raleigh expeditions during the 1970s.


Please feel free to contact Richard or Jonathan on 01392 424811 until Thursday 16th January. After that you can contact the expedition on 07901 935443

This is a preliminary press release. When the itinerary for the expedition has been finalised another press release will be issued.


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