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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


WHAT IS THE CENTRE FOR FORTEAN ZOOLOGY?

The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in 1992 to promote research into mystery animals and to act as a clearing house for information. (See our Aims and Objectives.) We have an extensive library, a small collection of specimens (both living and preserved) and a photo library of over 27,000 images. We act as a resource centre for researchers and also operate a media consultancy. We publish a quarterly 60pp magazine Animals & Men and an annual 200pp Yearbook containing articles and research papers. We also publish new material on fortean zoological subjects too esoteric for a mainstream publisher, and reprint hard-to-find fortean material. We undertake research in the UK and abroad and in the past few years have been involved with expeditions to Thailand, Puerto Rico, Mexico, The United States, Sumatra, Mongolia,The Gambia, Guyana and Russia. Other expeditions are planned.

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE CENTRE FOR FORTEAN ZOOLOGY?

The Centre for Fortean Zoology is a non profit making organisation. It is funded solely by subscriptions to the magazines and yearbooks, and none of the members of the faculty draw a salary from CFZ funds.. Each year we promote a conference called The Weird Weekend as a fundraiser for the CFZ. We are presently applying for charitable status so that we can approach the National Heritage Lottery Fund for funding.

WHO ARE THE FACULTY OF THE CENTRE FOR FORTEAN ZOOLOGY?

The full-time faculty governing members are Jonathan Downes (Director), Graham Inglis (Assistant Director) and Richard Freeman (Zoological Director). Together with Administrator Corinna Downes, and Ecologist Oll Lewis they are the only full-time cryptozoologists working in the United Kingdom, if not the world. The faculty also has a number of other professionals working within it on a part time basis, and an impressive number of acknowledged experts act as consultants to the CFZ on their specialist fields. We also have regional representatives throughout the UK and representatives in several foreign countries. Click here for a full list of our consultants, regional and national representatives.

WHAT DOES FORTEAN MEAN?

Charles Fort was an American philosopher who died in the 1930s. To quote directly from the Fortean Times website:

"Throughout his life, Fort was sceptical about scientific explanations, observing how scientists argued according to their own beliefs rather than the rules of evidence and that inconvenient data was ignored, suppressed, discredited or explained away (which is quite different from explaining a thing)."

Unfortunately, in recent years forteana has become synonymous in many people's minds with the word gullible, which is completely alien to what Fort (to whom, by the way, the term fortean would have been anathema) would have intended. Many fortean concepts have been adopted by political or religious pressure groups with their own agendas.

  • The search for surviving prehistoric creatures has been co-opted in many cases by Biblical creationists who wish to prove that their own brand of religious fundamentalism is correct.
  • The Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis has been adopted by various sects ranging from the apocalyptic to the merely inane who believe that "the Space People" are coming to earth to save, or punish mankind (depending on your point of view).
  • Conspiracy theorists have run amok. With the current mistrust of the governments of the western world by, erm, just about everybody, widespread beliefs involving aliens, lizard people, one-world governments, the Illuminati, freemasons and just about everybody have become so widespread as to have lost whatever meaning they had in the first place.

    Everyone seems to have forgotten the words of the man himself. Charles Fort once wrote: "I conceive of nothing, in religion, science or philosophy, that is more than the proper thing to wear, for a while."

    The CFZ is not allied to any religious or political group. For the record all three of the full time members of the CFZ faculty have different political and religious views and for the record this doesn't affect either their personal or professional relationships. The CFZ is a scientific organisation utilising truly fortean methodology. As Goethe said, "In her abnormalities nature reveals her secrets."

    WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FORTEAN ZOOLOGY AND CRYPTOZOOLOGY?

    There are three main types of mystery animal. The first are simple. They are 'cryptids' - species of animal whose existence is unrecognised by mainstream science. The second grouping are quasi or pseudo-cryptids. The animals in this group are a little more problematical as they are members of a species which is KNOWN to exist in a place where it is not SUPPOSED to be. This can either be because it is presumed to be extinct in that specific area or, more commonly, because they are exotic species that have escaped or been introduced

    The third, final, and in some ways the most contentious of the three groupings of apparently unknown creatures are the ones that may well not be creatures at all!

    At the risk of severely angering the folk in the Bigfoot camp and indeed some of my friends and colleagues who have spent so much of their lives sitting on the shores of Loch Ness waiting for something to happen, this is the category into which most of the most well-known members of the iconography of Cryptozoology fit in.

    This is not the time nor the place to enter into a long discussion about the veracity or otherwise of the most 'media-friendly' cryptids, the Yeti, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster but even the most hardcore nessiephile or traditional cryptozoologist would admit that the volumes that have been written about these phenomena includes a fair amount of evidence that suggests that some if not all of their manifestations may not necessarily be of physical origin.

    However cryptozoology per. se. is only concerned with the first type of these animals and the CFZ is concerned with all three and more besides. In 1992, when we first formed therefore we decided that we needed to start a new discipline to encompass all the areas in which we were interested.

    WILL THE NOTORIOUS OWLMAN FILM MAKE IT ONTO CFZtv?

    No. Over the years members of the CFZ faculty have been involved in a number of art projects. The Owlman film was fun and raised money for the CFZ. No-one ever said that we had to be serious all the time. However, that was then, and this is now. We believe that poor quality bootlegs of it have appeared on Ebay, and we are quite happy for that to be the case. But it has no relevance to what the CFZ is today.

    IS THERE AN OFFICIAL CFZ VIEWPOINT ON THE EXISTENCE OF CERTAIN CRYPTIDS?

    No. The CFZ are not thought police. We provide a framework of guidelines for research. We do not tell you what to believe. Even within the CFZ core faculty itself there are major differences in belief, and it doesn't matter. Even on a subject as basic as that of the Loch Ness Monster Richard and Jon disagree radically but that is not the point. The Centre for Fortean Zoology is about a structure in which people can work, not about telling people what work to do.

    DOESN'T YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH OTHER AREAS OF FORTEANA AND PARAPSYCHOLOGY ADVERSELY AFFECT YOUR CREDIBILITY AS ZOOLOGICAL RESEARCHERS?

    Not at all. Whatever research we have been involved in, either individually or collectively we have retained our standards of objectivity that we do when we are involved in a purely zoological investigation.

    To date, whenever we have become involved in research into a non fortean-zoological subject it has always been as a result of our fortean zoological investigations. The progress of these investigations has been charted in such books as The Owlman and Others [1998] and The Rising of the Moon [1999] two investigations which started off with fortean zoological subjects and which led off into other, more esoteric areas. As readers of our journals and books will be aware we have always charted our methodology meticulously and the fact that we have on occasion become involved in non-zoological investigations only, we believe, underlines our commitment to a holistic approach to fortean investigation.

    WHAT CAN I / WE DO TO HELP?

    There are several things:

  • You can help with our ongoing research. E-mail to ask what research programmes there are going on that you can participate in.
  • You can donate time, money or equipment. We always need various items of scientific equipment, office equipment, administrative supplies, and are in desperate need of people with web design, administrative and PR experience living in the westcountry who want to donate some time and effort.
  • You can support the Weird Weekend. This year we were the only fortean conference in the UK to make a profit.
  • You can organise a regional support group to raise funds for the CFZ. We'll gladly come and lecture or put on a display for you.
  • You can subscribe to our magazine and buy our books.
  • Keep on supporting us so our second decade is even more successful than our first.

    WHAT HAVE YOU ACHIEVED IN THE LAST FIFTEEN YEARS?

    Apart from having been the only fortean zoological organisation in the world to have consistently published material on all aspects of the subject, and to have conducted expeditions in search of the Naga, the Orang Pendek, the Cigau, and the chupacabra as well as a number of research projects in the United Kingdom, we have achieved the following concrete results:

  • Disproved the myth of the headless "sea-serpent carcass" of Durgan beach, Cornwall (1975)
  • Disproved the so-called alien dolphin mutilations of Devon 1999
  • Disproved the 1988 puma skull of Lustleigh Cleave
  • Carried out the only in-depth research ever done into the Cornish Owlman
  • Disproved the Puerto Rico embryo story of 1997
  • Made the first records of a tropical species of lamprey
  • Made the first records of a Thailand luminous cave gnat larva
  • Discovered a possible new extant species of British mammal - The Beech Marten
  • Discovered possible concrete evidence in Sumatra for a new species of big cat - the cigau.
  • Carried out the first fortean zoological survey of Hongkong
  • In 2000, CFZ theories were confirmed when a new species of lizard was found resident in Britain.
  • Identified the monster of Martin Mere in Lancashire as a giant wels catfish
  • Expanded the known range of Armitage’s skink in the Gambia by 80%
  • Obtained photographic evidence of the remains of Europe’s largest known pike
  • Carried out the first ever in-depth study of the ninki-nanka
  • Carried out the first attempts to breed Puerto Rican cave snails in captivity
  • Were the first European explorers to visit the `lost valley` in Sumatra
  • Published the first ever evidence for a new tribe of pygmies in Guyana
  • Published the first evidence for a new species of caiman in Guyana

    We have started work on our museum, and visitor centre. We are active in community work, and regularly do school visits. The Weird Weekend is now a truly community event, and the last event had people from all works of life between the ages of 3 and 87. The CFZ is no longer appealing purely to a niche market of hard-core forteans (although we hope that they are still as much into what we do as they ever were). Not bad for the first eighteen years eh?