THE MID 1970s, a few years after the public release of Bigfoot footage, Florida police received a torrent of reports claiming a similar creature was living in the state?s swamplands. Many witnesses described the beast as like an ape standing upright, seven feet tall and covered in light brown hair. In all it sounded like a Bigfoot clone, but there was one unique aspect to the Florida monster ? it smelled like a strong mixture of rotten eggs, manure and an elephant?s cage. One witness said it had the scent of a skunk that had just been rolling around inside a dustbin lorry. It was given the name the ?Skunk Ape?.
After the initial flurry of sightings, the Skunk Ape phenomenon waned. Some pictures, footprint casts and hair samples were collected, but appearances of the Skunk Ape came to an abrupt halt. There were suggestions it had been caught by the US Army and imprisoned at the Everglades National Park. This urban myth said that the creature escaped by smashing through a concrete wall and returned to his swampland home. Some Skunk Ape watchers believe he has taken up residence at the Big Cypress National Preserve, but none of the 70 rangers who patrol the area have ever seen him.
In the last few years however, new sightings have appeared in Ochapee, Florida. A group of tourists who were being shown round the Everglades saw a large ape-like creature moving around the edge of a nearby swamp. Later it was seen crossing the road outside the house of a local fire chief. The man found his camera and photographed the beast as it retreated into the swampland.
The photo does show a large brown, hirsute monster, but even the man who took the photograph says he thinks the creature could well be a man in an ape-suit. With confidence like that from first-hand witnesses, what hope is there that the Skunk Ape really exists?