Mysterious Creatures by Florence U. Cardinal
Florida's Hairy Ape

"It's 7 to 8 feet tall, covered in red-brown fur. And it's smelly."

The above quote is from the Naples, Florida Daily News dated September 5, 1999, and is attributed to Dave Shealy. Shealy is the owner of Big Cypress Trail Lakes Campground where the Skunk Ape has been sighted. He also runs the only Skunk Ape research center in Florida. In fact, Shealy's the one who fist used the term "Skunk Ape" because, he says, of the animal's foul smell. Shealy has been attempting to bring attention to the existence of this strange creature and has had some success, including the filming of a reenactment of the Skunk Ape encounter by "Unsolved Mysteries."

The Skunk Ape may be America's southernmost Sasquatch - or it could be another creature entirely. Like the Sasquatch, the Skunk Ape seems to crave its privacy, and what better place to hide out than in the Florida Everglades? Who knows what strange creatures may lurk in the mysterious depth of the Florida swamps?

But the Skunk Ape has been sighted many times and in many places across the State of Florida. With sightings reported every week, how can anyone believe the creature doesn't exist or even that it is a hoax?

In February of 2001, the Sarasota Sheriff's Department Received an anonymous letter containing some photographs that purported to be of the Skunk Ape. The woman who wrote the letter was concerned because she believed there was an orangutan loose in the area. She was worried about her family and also concerned that the animal might get on the highway and cause an accident. The photographs sparked an investigation, newspapers and other media picked up the story and it even aired on the Art Bell show.
(The photographs reported as Myakka ape turned out to be nothing more than an Asian made costume)

Does the creature exist? The law apparently thinks it does.

This is from Associated Press, October 1977:

"TALLAHASSEE, FL. (AP) A bill making it illegal to molest a Skunk Ape has been passed by a legislative committee as a lawmaker renews his effort to protect the legendary anthropoid. The Criminal Justice Committee passed the bill (HB58) by Rep. Paul Nuckolls, R-Fort Myers, Tuesday after Nuckolls unveiled it for the second year in a row. Last session, the bill passed committee but never reached the floor."

(C) Florence U. Cardinal, January 27, 2002

Courtesy Marlene Trask

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