The CFZ Newsletter
Issue #78 (April 2022)
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Editor's Letter

Dear friends,

Welcome to another issue of the CFZ members newsletter. There are all sorts of things going on within the Centre for Fortean Zoology, but most of them are relatively dull in nature. For example, Graham has spent much of the last month emulating The Drifters, and spending most of his time up on the roof finishing off the adhesion that needs to be applied to the rubber sheets we put up there a couple of years back. The weather was so crappy last year that although it should’ve been done then, it wasn’t. 

Carl, Graham and I have all been unwell to a greater or lesser extent, and have not been as functional as we would’ve liked. However, Graham went to see his mother in South Devon, and whilst he was away, Carl and Sarah sorted out an awful lot of work that needed to be sorted out in the dining room. Sarah is now working on making the library actually look like a library rather than a storeroom in some sort of itinerant transit camp.

I am happy to be able to inform you all that our two Web TV shows Are going from strength to strength; Louis has been talking to his business contacts and seems to have unearthed various pieces of information which are allowing us to be more successful in our viewing numbers. Specifically, I have been very lax over the last few years about utilising the YouTube community page. ‘Very lax‘ actually means that I have done bugger all about it. However this is now changed, and already it seems that by trying to do things that I should do on the YouTube section in question is having the desired result. However, if there is anybody out there in reader land who fancies taking on part of this job I would be very grateful.

Regular readers will, I am certain, be aware that Louis has earned himself the nickname of ‘Computer boy‘. I am happy to announce that he is now joined by ‘Social Media boy’ in the shape of a young man called Brad Onstott from summy Michigan who will be trying to make my CFZjon Twitter account actually be some use for us

One of the most important jobs that my late wife Corinna did for the CFZ was coediting the yearbook with me. The year we are working on at the moment, as it goes without saying, will be the first since she died, but I am pleased to announce that her role as co-editor has been taken over by Richard Muirhead. As you may know I have known Richard since he was a schoolboy over fifty years ago and I can’t think of anybody more suited to help me get the yearbook back on schedule. One thing I would like to say however, at first at least, we are only going to be doing a yearbook every two years: This volume is 22/23. Richard and I are also getting Animals & Men back on track too, with Carl Marshall taking Corinna’s place as co-editor on that project, but I am trying not to bite off too much more than I can chew… because as I keep saying I am more rapidly coming to face my dotage than I care to admit. 

Thank you to everybody who has supported us over the last month - and once again to all the people who have been kind enough to offer to become CFZ volunteers. We are always looking for more people to help, so if you are interested in joining our happy band of brothers and sisters, please email me on because we have a lot of work that needs to be done, both in research and administration… and I very very much look forward to hearing from you. 

Yours, as ever


Jon Downes


NOTICE: The newsletter takes a new direction
Like many people my age I watched the movie of Woodstock, partly because of all the naked girls and partly because it had Jimi Hendrix in it. However, about three quarters of the way through the movie, around about the time The Who did their thing, Michael Lang climbed onto the stage and told everybody that the festival was now going to be free. I always felt that if I had been someone who had already paid for a ticket, I would have been mightily annoyed. 

Michael Lang’s hand had been forced by the fact that tens of thousands of people had ripped down the perimeter fence and got in for nothing. I have no such excuse. 

Louis, who most of you know as producer of On The Track and our digital presence coordinator, has told me to stop charging for this newsletter. So, from now on this is going to be a free festival, umm newsletter. Please don’t be too angry with me, because I have to go on stage now and play the Star Spangled Banner with a load of feedback. 

However, should you still wish to contribute financially to the CFZ and those within it, the most important member of the CFZ Faculty has launched a new initiative with which he can recieve a whole bunch of impressive treats.

Oh those Tortoiseshells

Many of you will be aware that I am a regular habitué of the excellent Butterflies UK Forums, particularly the one that specialises in sightings. I get a lot of interesting information from there. And though last year was slightly dull, this year has got off to a flying start again, regular readers will be aware that I have been following the saga of the British large tortoiseshell butterfly for many years. It is widely believed that this creature was extirpated from the British Isles sometime in the 1950s and that any sightings of it which do take place are the result of vagrants blown over from the continent, or unofficial re-introductions five people or persons unknown. However, there are so many sightings of it every year now, that it seems certain that it is breeding here again. Last time there were well-attested sightings of caterpillars in Norfolk, Sussex, and Portland in Dorset, As well as sightings all across the bottom third of England.

This year has not had quite so many sightings as there was last year, but there have been a respectable number of them in southern England over the past few weeks. Check the current list out:


But the tortoiseshell sagas don’t end here.

Up until 2014 the Scarce Tortoiseshell butterfly, also known as the Yellow-legged Tortoiseshell, had a single confirmed sighting of a female specimen that was caught in Shipbourne, near Sevenoaks in West Kent on 2nd July 1953. It is believed that this individual could feasibly have occurred as a natural migrant, rather than an accidental introduction. However, some 61 years later, in July 2014, the ability of this butterfly to reach our shores was confirmed when sightings of this species were reported from a number of counties in south-east England, following an influx in the Netherlands. This species is resident in central and eastern Europe, but is occasionally sighted in Finland, and Germany, and although it is usually a vagrant to Denmark it arrived there in enormous numbers during 2014. 

It successfully colonised Sweden during its last big population explosion in the early years of the current century, and although it was claimed that it had bred a in the UK during 2014 and certainly a few specimens overwintered because a few were seen in East Anglia during the spring of 2015, the species then died off here.

On the Sussex butterflies blog for the 12th of March, Stuart Cooper wrote:

“Pristine Scarce Tortoiseshell on bracken under the pylons, sunning itself. Flew off before I could get a picture, but I have some video of it flying away. 😂 (Stuart Cooper, Flat rompers Wood - TQ86462282)”

One of the editors wrote:

“Hopefully it will be seen again, and photographed, Stuart. I note that in The Butterflies of Sussex it was a certain Stuart Cooper who photographed a Scarce Tortoiseshell on March 12th 2014. Martin K”

And there the matter rests. It is not at all impossible that this species has once again reached British shores, but the fact that the same person made two records eight years apart does push it into the realm of the Fortean coincidence.

Just sayin’

This Month on CFZ TV

OTT #173: Loch Ness "one of our Nessies is missing" and Wilfull Wolverines

And what have we got for you this week?

- Jon screws up the intro
- Gef cooks some pears
- Jon explains who, why and where
- Loch Ness
- Where has Nessie gone?
-  Bullshit following Penn and Teller's bullshit
-  Haldon Hills wolverine hunt
- Thank you Nigel
- Yellowstone Wolverine
- Yogi Bear
- Jon explains his blanket etc


OTT #172..1: The book Jon HADN'T read (#monsters)6

And what shall go to the ball?

Richard reviews a book Jon has in his library and has never read.  What is it? You will have to watch it to find out.



OTT #172: more movies, Jimi Hendrix and a racist moth

And who shall go to the ball?

- Hennis on Hiva Oa
- A Visit to French Polynesia
- Gef sings Le Moribond
- the 2022/3 Yearbook
- We revisit the conversation between Ve, Jon and Richard
- Cryptozoology at the movies
- Jon and Adam Faith
- Adam Faith at Loch Ness
- L Hugh Newman
- Racist nomenclature and moths
- racist nomenclature and Jimi Hendrix

OTT Xtra #171.1 Readers of the Lost Ark

And what shall go to the ball?

- Jon explains stuff
- Ve interrupts with sniggers
- The first Fortean book Jon ever reviewed
- Ve apologises
- Karl Shuker's Lost Ark
- A wonderful book

Macau must be the least cryptozoologicaly obvious place on the planet but a report in the South China Morning Post on December 20th 1963 reported a sea monster with huge jaws sunning itself on a promenade by the water front in the former Portuguese colony across the Pearl River delta from Hong Kong. There was speculation that it was an alligator which in itself would be highly unusual as there were no alligators anywhere near Macau either in the 1960s or now

In 1957 Soviet historian and social scientist Boris Porshnev, inspired by the reports of the Yeti in the Himalayas, became interested in the possibility of similar creatures in the area of Europe and Asia then controlled by the Soviet Union. He was given permission by the Soviet Academy of Sciences to establish a Commission to examine the whole question of the 'Snowman'. After he wrote an article in Pravda he received over a thousand reports from all over the Soviet Union, giving a consistent picture of a wild creature, more closely related to human beings than any known species, surviving in mountainous areas all over Asia. An expedition to the Pamirs of Tajikistan was organised in 1958 to follow up the most promising reports. Unfortunately, more powerful figures in the scientific establishment subverted the original purpose of the expedition and it produced little result. From then on Porshnev's position declined. His theory that Asian wildman reports could be explained by surviving Neanderthals was attacked, in one case in terms that doubted his sanity. The defence he wrote could not be published in Moscow, and had to appear in a Kazakhstan literary magazine.

In 1963 he produced a book summarising the evidence the Commission had received, studies from other parts of the world, and further evidence from history. He built up on this basis a consistent picture of the creature and discussed its possible relation to Neanderthal man. The book was never actually completed, but 180 copies of a preliminary version were circulated to colleagues in Moscow. The book then disappeared for well over half a century. With the assistance of Porshnev's family the manuscript has now reached the West and is published here in an English translation with the addition of notes, maps, illustrations and an index. This book casts a wholly new light on the Yeti, Bigfoot and the possible survival of human ancestors into the present day.

Buy the book at a special low price today. 

Buy Now
Notes & Queries
This is a new feature for the CFZ Monthly Newsletter and is based upon the popular series of questions and answers that appeared in Victorian national and regional periodicals in the 19th Century and in much more recent times in The Guardian. or more appropriately, Science Gossip. The questions you submit can be on any aspect of cryptozoology or its allied discipline, Fortean Zoology. For example, if you are highly curious and can't wait to find out the answer to the Question: "When was the first time a black squirrel was seen in Britain?" hopefully someone will be in the know!
This story appeared in the  “Manchester Weekly Times,” February 4, 1854. Does anyone know any more about this or similar cases? RM
Has anyone any similar stories of animal-related poltergeist activity (other than Gef) RM
We are looking for all references and reports of the mystery big cat of Iriomote. Please send them to JD

As regular viewers of On The Track will know, we are in the early stages of setting up a, or at least carrying out a feasibility study, into a research project on the Japanese island of Iriomote. As you probably know, this island, one of the southernmost parts of the Japanese archipelago is home to a unique species of cat Prionailurus iriomotensis which some people believe is a subspecies of the Asian Leopard Cat. It was discovered in 1965 by Tetsuo Koura, who also looked into rumours of a larger mystery cat on the island. This, if it exists, will almost certainly turn out to be a clouded leopard of some description, but the important thing is to find out to which of the two species of clouded leopards to which it belongs. However, as recent evidence has shown that speciation within the clouded leopard complex is not unknown, could it be a new subspecies, and if so, what is its relationship to the semi-mythical clouded leopards of formosa. 

We are looking for some volunteers to help put this project together. This, in the early stages, will take completely on social media, but if there is anybody who speaks Japanese or who reads this and has family or friends on Iriomote and wants to have a bash at getting themselves a modicum of zoological immortality, please drop me a line at:

CFZ Publications
Animals & Men Collected Editions

Although Animals & Men had been available in hard copy for twenty years by then, we made the decision to publish it for free as an online flip-book, as well as publishing it, perfect bound, in the more traditional format. This was a great success, but sales of the traditional format continued to fall and – eventually – it got to the stage that it was no longer even partially viable to publish individual issues in hard copy.

Although the business ethic of CFZ Press (if you can actually call it that) was never profit orientated, it had been designed around the more traditional publishing models, and as these speedily began to change, our profit margin (such as it was) vanished like a sandcastle at high tide. So, we had to drastically rethink what we were doing and how we were doing it. And so, reluctantly, the decision was made to eschew publishing individual issues in hard copy, and to publish omnibus collections in book form. Coming imminently, a little later than we had hoped, is the first of these collections. I hope that you enjoy it, and find it interesting.

I am particularly proud of what I have achieved in the last twenty-five years of Animals & Men. It is not only – as far as I am aware – the longest standing cryptozoological publication in the English speaking world, but it espouses a model of cryptozoology that places it well within the remit of the natural sciences, rather than as some peculiar branch of paranormal research. This is something that I, and the other leading lights of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, feel is utterly important, because – in our opinion – the internecine squabbles which take place across the internet about such hot topics as to whether ‘bigfoot has a cloaking device’ or whether ‘alien big cats are actually extraterrestrial in origin’ are completely counter-productive, and do nothing except to drag what little good name cryptozoology still has through the gutter. Cryptozoology is not, or at least should not be, the study of ghosts, phantoms, or semi-decomposed dead raccoons, and – from the beginning – the CFZ has done its best to foster an environment where cryptids are seen as real animals, and studied on that basis.

Buy The New Collected Edition

Wild Colonial Boy

Anybody who has been a CFZ watcher at any time this last thirty years, will know that I have been promising to write a book about my childhood in Hong Kong, and my early introductions to the arcane world of Fortean zoology. Well, half a century after I first thought of the idea, and over forty years since I actually started writing the bloody thing, the first edition is finally out.

For those of you who are interested in the more Fortean aspects of the stories, let me assure you it includes a bunch of musings on the subject of the final Hong Kong tiger, what happened to Hong Kong’s foxes, accounts of mysterious apes in the heavily forested areas on the south of the island, the complicated story of St. John’s macaque, rumours of giant earthworms, and all sorts of other things besides. I stress that it is the first edition, because there are still a few minor typographical errors needing to be sorted out. Louis and I are working on them on as we speak, and so the first edition – especially one signed by me – is likely to become a collector’s item in very short order. And you can purchase one of these rare objects by clicking on the link below:

Buy Now: Wild Colonial Boy

One of my favourite books is Turtle Diary by Robert Hoban, and in this lovely tale, one of the protagonists says that gibbons in London Zoo do their remarkable acrobatic feats, swinging from branch to branch and brachiating to their hearts’ desire, in the same way that jazz musicians play their music without any thought of financial reward. And I have always extrapolated from that that the idea that true artists make art because that is what they do. They are incapable of doing anything else.

My last album, which was recorded in the summer of 2018, just after Corinna received her initial cancer diagnosis, sold eleven copies. But I know that far more people than that have listened to it, and I hope that they have got something from it. I have always seen my art as a mirror of my life, and when – back in the summer of 2018 – I was recording the songs which eventually turned up on ‘Coldharbour’, I was addressing the mental and emotional turmoil we were all facing, albeit writing in code, because Corinna wanted to keep her health problems private.

But now you know what lines such as “good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to you and me” and “this thing came out of nowhere, I suppose we should have planned” were actually about. My first wife, Alison, always said that I used to write in code, and I suppose this is a pretty fair accusation. However, quite often, the code is quite easy to break and written purely in a form that makes sense to me rather than any deliberate attempt as obfuscation.

And me? As you might have guessed, I have a new record out on Bandcamp. I may or may not do a CD release as well. It depends whether I have the emotional energy so to do. The record is called ‘The New Normal’, and is named at least partly because my darling friend Davey Curtis finds the term so irritating. 
>The New Normal by Jon Downes
Corinna Downes (1956 - 2020)
I would like to thank everybody who sent their kind messages following Corinna’s passing last August. I truly appreciate all of your messages, prayers and good wishes. I’m not enjoying it, as you can imagine and this is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life, but I am dusting myself off and getting on with things. Due to Corinna’s health issues, and also those of Mother, whom you might remember passed away around Christmas 2019, I have not been doing what I should normally have been doing as far as the CFZ is concerned. However, I would like to reassure you all that I am back in the saddle. As hard work is one of the things which stops me feeling  too sorry for myself, you can expect quite a lot of new CFZ developments soon!
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The Centre for Fortean Zoology · Myrtle Cottage · 9 Back Street, Woolsery · Bideford, Devon EX39 5QR · United Kingdom

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