Bigfoot Encounters

Ape tape divides experts

Is this really the mysterious 'skunk-ape'?

By Malcolm Brabant in Miami

A campsite owner in the Florida Everglades is calling on the state government to enact new laws to protect a creature known as the yeti of the swamps, bigfoot or skunk ape. Researchers say they have received credible evidence from indigenous Indians living in the swamp that such a creature exists. And they want to examine a video taken by the campsite owner, David Shealy. (which is not a photo of a "real skunk ape aka Bigfoot)

He says the tape proves the skunk ape's existence. Skeptics believe its an elaborate hoax.

According to South Florida folklore, the skunk ape is the long lost cousin of the abominable snowman, so-named because it supposedly smells like rotten eggs. Swamp guide David Shealy has the most incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time. He doesn't own a video camera. But he says he borrowed one to film some Everglades deer ... and lo and behold. "There was something tall and black standing there, about seven feet tall. As I zoomed in on it, I could see arm movements," he reveals. "That's when I realized immediately that I was photographing a skunk ape" he adds.

Bill Bang, an enthusiastic hunter, is one of the skeptics who believe this latest sighting is another hoax. I've spent 30-plus years splashing around out there, I've never seen any evidence of anything like it," he says. But it is not the figment of David Shealy's imagination, according to anthropologist Bob Carr, who together with tracker Ted Riggs has been collecting evidence about the skunk ape for a quarter of a century Both are convinced that there is at least some kind of unidentified creature out there.

Ted Riggs points to the enormous amount of strength a creature would need to be able to bound through the swamp as shown on the Shealy tape. But Carr warns that although he believes there is some kind of creature out there, hoaxes only make it all the more challenging to track down the genuine article.

Seemingly only a corpse can finally prove the existence of the shadowy beast once and for all - but that's an idea that horrifies David Shealy.

© BBC News, London
Friday, 21 July, 2000

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