The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Saturday 29 March 2014

Searching for Sasquatch

Alberta Sasquatch researcher Aaron Arcand wants to be a reality star.  On February 15th, 2014, he  pitched his idea for a reality show to “Dragon’s Den”, a reality show itself, that gives enterpreneurs a chance to get awarded funding for their projects.   Episodes of Dragons' Den air on CBC, and  you can watch full episodes online or download Dragons' Den from iTunes.  Judges are Canadian business moguls who have the cash and the know-how to make the projects happen.  Dragons' Den originated in Japan and versions are now airing in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, The Netherlands, Finland, in the Middle East and of course in Canada.

Two big questions immediately come to mine.  First, do we need another Sasquatch reality show?  Arcand proposes one location, and one researcher who spends six months there searching for Sasquatch.  The one location idea is unique—most reality TV takes crews to various locations with few good results.  Those of us who have been in the field know all too well that brief visits, even to locations known to have multiple sightings, can yield very little.  There might be some merit to spending an extended amount of time in one place.  Certainly it would give good opportunity to collect large amounts of data.  He proposes that he takes this on alone, which is problematic in that he would need someone to help with cameras and audio.  His proposed budget is $100,000 which seems excessive for a one man camping experience.  The audition in February was effective;  he has been invited to Toronto on April 1 to convince the judges his idea is worth airing on the TV show.

The other question is, who is Aaron Arcand?  Mr. Arcand is an  owner and operator of a fire and safety services company in Edmonton, Alberta.  His LinkedIn profile says he works for A-Tech Fire and Safety Services, but a quick look at the Yellow Pages doesn’t show any such place in Alberta.  He does pop up on other internet sites, including an entertaining one called  Here Arcand is quoted by blogger Robert Lindsay on January 17 responding to rather comical accusations posted online by anonymous surfers:

 Anonymous comment:  Saw a hot looking Bigfoot babe near the dump at the Small Boys Camp in Alberta. He named her Bo after Bo Derek. Apparently she was a real cutie.
 Arcand Response: Yes, while changing a flat tire on the road near the Small Boys Dump I saw a young female Sasquatch. If there is such a thing as a hot Sasquatch, she was it. I tell ya, shave her down, and you would be looking at the body of a sexy 18 year old. Firm titties and all. They did not even bounce as she ran off into the woods. So yes, I named her Bo after Bo Derek.

It looks like the proposed new show is in the same quality as those already available.

Arcand can be found on Facebook if you’d like to be friends.

Monday 24 March 2014

The Monster Under the Bed

When is a monster not a monster?  When it’s a cryptid.
Realistically, cryptids, although often thought of as monsters, are really fairly harmless.  Even the feared Mothman has never actually harmed anyone.  Bigfoot doesn’t eat you.  And the Mongolian Death Worm?  Is that even real?

Merriam Webster’s full definition of monster is:
a :  an animal or plant of abnormal form or structure
b :  one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character
:  a threatening force
a :  an animal of strange or terrifying shape
b :  one unusually large for its kind
:  something monstrous; especially :  a person of unnatural or extreme ugliness, deformity, wickedness, or cruelty
:  one that is highly successful
So ok, maybe cryptids can be defined as “abnormal” in that they don’t yet have a defined existence.   They don’t typically deviate from normal or acceptable behavior, they aren’t overtly threatening, and most aren’t even all that ugly.  So why do we call them monsters?
Wikipedia says a monster is any creature, usually found in legends or horror fiction, that is often hideous and may produce fear or physical harm by its appearance and/or its actions.   The origins of the word itself is from the latin monstrum, which is something weird that is thought to be out of the natural order of things.  Monsters are generally though of as psychologically harmful, or ugly, or in some way morally objectionable.  The root of the latin word, however, is monere, which means to warn or instruct and is also the root of the word demonstrate.  St. Augustine chose this interpretation and did not see “monsters” as inherently evil.  In fact, even persons with severe birth defects were thought of as monsters, and if those defects were seen at birth it was a warning that problems were ahead for the individual and its caregivers.
Classic monsters like Frankenstein, wolf-man and zombies, or others that spawn from legends and fictional stories, are examples of physical abnormality.  Indeed, cryptids would fit this definition. Somewhere along the way, likely through storytelling, the idea of a monster developed into something that should be feared---something that has an evil intent.
Ancient Greco-Roman, Celtic, Semitic, Norse, Chinese and Sumerian folklore all had a wealth of monsters.  Folklore created a fantastic population of cruel and evil entities as explanations of abnormalities that occurred in nature.  Likely it was the idea of somehow wronging a deity, therefore causing the abnormality, that initially associated “monsters” with wrongdoing and therefore evil or punishment.  Certainly in the case of the Jersey Devil this is apparent.  Mrs. Leeds swore a curse on her child who was then born with severe abnormalities.  Whether or not those abnormalities also included extraordinary abilities has yet to be proven.  Considering that the “cruelty” and “danger” from this cryptid is in the form of fear more so than injury, it can only be the legends and cursed background that qualifies this as a “monster”.  Otherwise, how can simply seeing this thing be fearful?
In many role-playing games, "monster" is a catch-all term for hostile, non-human characters. Sentient characters are generally not referred to as “monsters”.  This is an indication that culturally, monsters have  decidedly become thought of as hurtful.  This is unfortunate for cryptids;  if every abnormal and unappealing being is thought of as a monster, the natural reaction would be to run, or to kill the “creature.”  Indeed in many “civilized” countries it has become normal to treat that which is ugly or unusual as a threat.  Sadly, we shun perfectly lovely people with scarring and birth defects.  We avoid those with artificial limbs.  We have been acclimated to treat those who are not just like us as “bad”.
Prejudice is recognized when it involves race, religion, or even sexuality. As we attempt to educate the bigots that those who are different are not “bad”, so we should educate that cryptids aren’t “monsters” either.  They are simply different.  If they weren’t different, they wouldn’t be interesting.
"Monster." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <>.