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AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

When we first started the Centre for Fortean Zoology during the early summer of 1992 we had three aims in mind. Firstly and perhaps most importantly, we wanted to establish an international resource centre where as much information as possible could be gatheredtogether in one place, and which was open to everyone regardless of status. Although there are several collections of data in the world they are all owned by private individuals and are therefore difficult, if not impossible to gain access to unless you are personally acquainted with the owner of the material. When we finally achieve our goal of having our entire archives accessible through the Internet, anyone from anywhere in the world will have access to what is already probably the biggest collection of data in the United Kingdom, and will soon be one of the biggest, if not the biggest in the world.

The second and very nearly as important aim was to provide an unbiased forum for discussion and a 'neutral' body for coordination and arbitration. It is no secret that there are a number of bitter feuds which have been going on within each branch of the cryptozoological world for many years. Within each of the sub-groups (the mystery cat investigators, the lake monster hunters, and the bigfoot buffs) there are bitter and vehement schisms, and many of those involved hate each other with a ridiculous amount of venom.

We have so far managed to remain neutral and we do not take sides in arguments. With one notable exception we have managed, so far at least to avoid making any real enemies within the wonderful world of cryptid hunting, and we aim to try and carry on that way. We intend to build bridges not walls, and it is our heartfelt belief that the bundle of esoteric disciplines that makes up the science of Fortean Zoology will never be taken seriously by the rest of academia until the main protagonists cease quarrelling like petulant schoolboys. It is our aim to try and facilitate this.

The third main aim of the Centre for Fortean Zoology is to provide an 'umbrella' organisation for the exchange of information and expertise amongst all branches of the science. The International Society for Cryptozoology has not been active in some years, and even when it was it largely ignored the whole gamut of zooform phenomena as well as the more esoteric interests like Vampirology and Were-Beasts. We may be based in the UK but we are a truly global organisation. With our regional and national representatives and with our helpline we try to be a 'user friendly' organisation and we have a policy of a totally interdisciplinary approach, rather than - like the ISC - sticking to a purely zoological model. We are affiliated, or in the process of becoming affiliated with a number of smaller organisations worldwide and we are beginning to form an effective interface between them.

As we near the end of our our second decade we intend to expand our publishing activities. We already publish two successful magazinea, 'Animals and Men', and `The Amateur Naturalist`, an annual Yearbook, several other ongoing series, and a number of other books besides. We intend to extend our range of books on the various subjects in which we are interested, and we also intend to publish reprints of hard to obtain and antiquarian material as well as small runs of books on subjects generally considered too esoteric by the more mainstream publishers. We believe that as mainstream publishing becomes ever more commercially driven, it is organisations like us who have to lead the way in establishing altruistic publishing houses for which the profit motive is not a consideration.

We fund at least one major foreign expedition each year and we would like, eventually, not only to establish the existence of various cryptids but to help assure their long term survival by establishing nature reserves and conservation programmes. We are a registered non-profit making trust and we hope to achieve charitable status shortly. We have established a nascent full time Visitor's Centre with a small zoological collection and dedicated museum and library. Our annual conference - The Weird Weekend - has in the last few years become far more important than merely a chance for CFZ members to meet up and have a few beers. It has become a truly community based event, and is furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, the only fortean event which is aimed at members of the general public, rather than to the fortean faithful. We intended to carry on in this direction, and make it is a bigger, better, and more community integrated event as the years go on. As I sit here typing this, just after Christmas 2009, the organisation that I founded nearly 18 years ago has expanded beyond my wildest dreams, and the future looks very encouraging.

Jon Downes
Director, CFZ