- Tourists in Florida have been laying
bait around the vast swamp known as the Everglades in the hope of catching
sight of a seven-foot-tall gorilla-like creature said to resemble the legendary
- During the past few weeks several tour
groups claim to have spotted the red-haired Big Foot, known locally as
a Skunk Ape because of its appalling smell.
- The National Parks Service dismisses
the stories as a hoax, but American tribes that live in the swamps insist
it is real.
- David Shealey is on a mission to solve
the greatest mystery of this vast untamed wilderness and prove that the
Skunk Ape exists.
- "I've got a feeling that right now
if it wasn't for all the bushes we could see it. I do not know where it
would be, but it would be around so we could see it."
- (Image text: "David Shealey finds
- He says he once saw the red-haired monster
25 years ago, but all he has seen since are tracks in the mud. Amazingly
within seconds of plunging into the swamp he found what appeared to be
a huge fresh footprint.
- "Right here is the heal of the foot.
It is relatively light pressure. There are four toes. It is kind of twisted
- (Image text: Possible photo of the Skunk
- Could the print have been made by the
blob in the middle of a photograph taken by a firechief, who is not prone
to flights of fancy?
- The firechief describes what he saw:
"It took long steps, kind of like a man, but it wasn't a bear. A lot
of people thought it was a bear, but a bear doesn't go on two, it goes
down on four."
- Miami based scientist Bob Carr and professional
tracker, TL Riggs, believe the creature could be a new species that is
part man, part beast, and possibly a near cousin of Homo sapiens.
- "This may be one of the last great
mysteries of nature left in the 20th century. And what is there is important
for us to know in terms of understanding more about our world, but it is
also important to preserve it and maintain its integrity."
- Sceptics say the Skunk Ape may be nothing
more than a big man in a gorilla party suit. If that is the case the hoaxer
is playing a dangerous game, because this is hunting territory and round
here they shoot to kill.
- Some disbelievers point the finger at
David Shealey, who runs a mini roadside zoo and a gift shop full of Skunk
- "It would be nice to think it was
good for business but through it all I have yet to have anybody come through
my door looking for a Skunk Ape."
- Members of the Micosukkee Indian tribe
who offer tourist trips around the everglades believe the Skunk Ape should
be left in peace.
- The National Parks Service says the creature
doesn't exist, but the service is part of the US Government, which has
always been 'full and frank' about other mysteries such as UFOs, Gulf War
syndrome and Monica Lewinsky.