Skip to comments.She's a believer in the skunk ape
Posted on 11/28/2004 8:38:24 AM PST by TexasCajun
LAKELAND, FLA. -
Urban legends are supposed to be legends and that's all. But if you ask Jennifer Ward about the Florida skunk ape, she will tell you it stepped out of the mists of myth and into reality.
"I never thought anything like that was out there before," Ward, 30, said recently. "But I know there is now."
Ward's encounter with the hairy creature came in August, about a week after Hurricane Charley, along a rural stretch of road as she was driving home from a friend's house. Her daughters were asleep in the back seat and it was approaching dusk.
"I noticed something in the ditch. I looked over, and I guess it noticed me. It rose up," she said explaining that the animal had been crouching.
"Its eyes went from serious, maybe it was getting frogs it was focused on something," she continued. "When he saw me, he was as surprised as I was. I slowed down to almost a stop; I didn't stop because I was scared. It was almost dark, but I could see it and get a good look."
200 years of sightings
Ward said the creature was 6 to 8 feet tall and covered with hair about 2 inches long. There was white around the eyes, but she did not notice a nose or ears. She said the lips were full with the texture of a dog's paw pad. Its hands were drawn up next to its body.
At first, Ward only told friends and family about what she saw. She acknowledged that it took considerable time for her to decide to go public.
Florida skunk ape sightings have been reported for more than 200 years, according to Scott Marlowe, co-founder of Pangea Institute in Winter Haven and instructor of an upcoming college course on cryptozoology, the study of hidden animals and the possibility of their existence.
He said there have been about 75 reported sightings of the skunk ape in Florida in the past 20 years. This Southern relative of Bigfoot gets its name for the awful stench often associated with it. Ward said she could not remember an odor, but that may have been what first caught her attention.
Joy Hill, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, would not comment about whether she thinks the sighting was genuine but said her agency has received no reports of such creatures.
Marlowe is searching the area of Ward's sighting outside Lakeland for footprints and hair that may have been snagged on a branch. He said the increasing development in Florida means man and beast will cross paths more often.
"With so much encroachment, it's almost inevitable if the thing exists, we're going to find it," Marlowe said.
The skunk ape makes its winter home in the Everglades, Marlowe said, but may move about seasonally.
"I suspect they migrate," he added.
Loren Coleman, author of the 2003 book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, is considered the leading cryptozoologist in the world and has been tracking Bigfoot-type sightings for 45 years. He said weather events, such as hurricanes, often result in sightings.
"Hurricanes and tornadoes stir up wildlife. They travel to get settled," Coleman said in a telephone interview.
"Florida is the only subtropical state, and (there is) very great habitat for any kind of primate. It's comfortable and supportive," he said. "Even though there are population centers, people forget there's lots of wild land in between."
As for Ward, she said she drives a little slower now so she can look around, and she keeps a camera in her vehicle. The Lakeland woman said she hopes her report does not stir up any craziness among people looking for the creature.
"I have the feeling they do watch a lot," she said. "I wish I could see it again. I want people to see what I saw."
Please post your best Skunk-Ape pictures!
I had never heard of skunk apes before, and were it not for FR, I would still be in the dark.
And you had a close encounter? Pls tell us.
I was right! Janet Reno at home!
...and usually begins it's long trek home to New York in late April and early May after the threat of late season snow storms is past......
Wow! You are right on!!! LMAO!
An experience like this?
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should anyone post Juan Williams picture....PLEASE.
I know, because I've seem 'em as trophies in some very fine establishments.
Do you know how many hungry coonass Cajuns one of those things would feed?
Maybe there is Nutria-Man in the swamp still undiscovered?
Interesting how the obvious hasn't been done.
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