The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Friday, 15 March 2013

What is Normal?

More and more often, wild animals are turning up in Canadian cities.  Recently Toronto has developed a coyote problem.  Calgary has had rampant coyotes, porcupines, and even badgers within the city limits for a long time. Peregrine Falcons are more plentiful in the city than they are in the wild as we endeavor to repopulate the declining numbers. Many Canadians have found bears, deer, and even an occasional moose in their yard.  If the definition of “Cryptozoological” still includes animals showing up where they are not supposed to be, this is a problem.  A coyote kill in Scarborough is no longer unusual.

Circus animals, zoo animals and pets often roam among us as well.  Domesticated animals that are something other than dogs and cats turn up from time to time in odd places.  Again, it happens so often now that it is no longer Fortean.  Seeing a monkey in the local Ikea barely raises an eyebrow these days.  The stray peacock in Victoria is likely from a nearby farm.  How does a cryptozoologist know what is “unusual”?
The short answer is research.  It isn’t difficult to find out what is commonly or even occasionally loose in metro areas.  One or two phone calls to a local zoo or animal services will likely tell you all you need to know.  Too many new researchers or hobbyists are quick to jump on the Crypto bandwagon over something as simple as a lone alpaca.

Sometimes, though, really strange things show up.  A fully grown alligator in any Canadian waters would be worth grabbing your gear and heading down to document.  The big cats, when you are sure they are not cougars, bobcats or lynx, do occasionally make an appearance in Canada and a witness report should be investigated.  A word of caution with the big cats though—just because someone sees a “black panther” doesn’t make it odd.  There have been documented black cougars in Canada.  The best reports however come from the world of the really bizarre.  Lake  monsters are always a popular subject, especially between May and November when there are more people on the water and the lakes are not frozen.  Sasquatch is still rampant of course.

What really piques our Crypto interests around these parts are the sightings of high strangeness.  Reports of “little people”, those who look like gnomes or leprechauns, surface at least once a year.  Sometimes these are reported to ghost groups.  Sometimes the UFO researchers get wind of little creatures that appear somewhat human.  Each group can rightfully claim them as nobody really knows yet what they are.  Certainly, however, anything that seems biological requires serious inquiry by cryptozoologists.  Unfortunately, some elitist researchers discard these reports out of hand, marking them “other worldly” or even “psychic phenomena”.    Who’s to say an elf isn’t simply a living creature?

The prevalence of native lore in Canadian culture is sometimes a deterrent to the study.  Most tribes include the idea of a shape shifter, and perhaps that may explain some of the elusive beings.  European cultures bring their religious belief in the existence of demons and explain away hooved creatures as such.  If a report makes it to a Cryptozoologist, and prints are evident, it is a good idea to investigate even the “demon” as something biological and Fortean.  What a huge event proving the existence of satyr-like beings would be!

Canadian Cryptozoologists need not limit their studies to hairy men and scaly serpents.  Reports of those in some areas are few and far between.  If you want to keep busy with Canadian fieldwork, you’re going to have to think outside the Crypto-normal.

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