Bigfoot Encounters

News-Journal, Daytona Beach Florida
By John Carter
July 6, 1997 

`Dolly Llama', other creatures could be fun.

That was some fun over in Southwest Volusia over the so-called "Deltona Dolly Llama." Or whatever that critter was.

There's nothing like a strange beast to get people talking. Like, who would ever think twice about that peat-filled Loch Ness unless there was a "monster" lurking in its murky depths.

It appears that there was a rational explanation for the Deltona Dolly -- that it's an escaped fallow deer or somesuch. That's too bad.

We could use a little romance and intrigue around here. The kind that only cryptozoology can deliver.

Believe it or don't, but there is an International Society of Cryptozoology and it's based in Tucson, Ariz. The society does
interviews and scientific inquiries to determine if fantastic animals actually exist.

Much of the time has been spent on one particular critter, known popularly to y'all as "Bigfoot." That's what he's called in Kansas,
California and Washington State anyways.

In Canada, he's called Sasquatch; MoMo in Missouri; The Fouke Monster in Arkansas; Grassman in Ohio; Kaki Besar in Malaysia; and Yeren, Yeti and Abominable Snowman in Asia.

I KNOW THIS will make you proud. We have the same legend in Florida, and he has been seen across our fair state from the Panhandle to the Everglades.

In the area around Palatka in Putham County Florida, he's known as the Bardin Booger. In Orlando, the Fairvilla Gorilla. Everywhere else, he's the Skunk Ape.

There was a rash of Skunk Ape sightings in the 1970s, several in Brevard County and many more allegedly in the Everglades.

I have had acquaintances swear on the Bible that they have seen -- and smelled -- the elusive Skunk Ape.

Almost every description is identical, which some say is proof of his existence. He's about, oh, 8 feet tall, with dark black and brown hair all over his body (Many talk of tufts of hair on his shoulders and back.) and packing an overwhelming stench, like a polecat but much stronger.

There are motorists who claim they have hit one and a Palm Beach County security guard even says he shot one, but of course it got away.

An airboat guide talks of a sighting while leading a tour, but none of the tourists managed to snap a picture of it.

It's a sardonic half-joke, but one anthropologist suggests that the first person to shoot a Skunk Ape and bring back the body should become a millionaire.

The second one to do so, he says, should go to prison.

But the glory days of the Skunk Ape have passed. Excited talk now centers on more violent beasts such as the blood-sucking vampire goat-killer, the Chupacabra. This beast apparently has migrated from its native Puerto Rico to South Florida.

There was a recent scare about what excited residents described as a "Florida black panther" in a Miami suburb. It devoured several neighborhood cats, a bunny and chewed on a Lexus automobile.

DNA analysis proved the attacker was a wild dog, but the residents still stick to their panther theory.

That's the problem with cryptozoology. The folks who have seen these creatures stick to their story even if the evidence is stacked against them.

STRANGELY ENOUGH, there are some nonbelievers who still keep an open mind about Skunk Apes. Bloodthirsty, vampire goat-suckers are routinely dismissed, they say, but if any legendary creature truly does exist, it's likely to be something quiet and docile.I think the Skunk Ape might be the perfect crypto-animal to help build Flagler or Volusia County tourism.  Let's see, now. There could be the Palm Coast Pithecanthropectus or the Bunnell Boondocker. The Samsula Sasquatch has a nice ring to it, as does the Deltona Doofus or the Orange City O-rang-a-tang.  The Holly Hill Humongous works for me, as does the Wilbur-By-The-Sea Wild Man.This has a lot of tourist potential. Now, if we could only do something about that skunky smell ...

(c) 1997 News-Journal Corp.

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