; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Florida's Skunk Apes & Hairy Hominids

The following article was posted recently at The Tampa Tribune website:

Click for video - Skunkape Sighting Plant City

PLANT CITY – A video that purports to show a large, man- or ape-like creature in Alderman’s Ford park has been making the rounds on the Internet.

The 22-second video, taken from a great distance and without commentary, depicts a furry, dark figure walking along the tree line before disappearing into the forest. The footage was reportedly shot at the county park off County Road 39.

The video has been posted on a number of websites and Facebook pages that track sightings of bigfoot, a legendary – and many scientists say nonexistent – type of creature that has reportedly been spotted in some form all over the world.

A spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Parks Department said she hadn’t heard of any reports of bigfoot in any county park.

Laurie Champion, a Pasco County resident who runs a website, www.pinellaspascoparanormal.com, that among other things tracks bigfoot sightings, said she hadn’t heard anything about the Plant City bigfoot. Her site includes links to video of bigfoot at Lettuce Lake Park near Tampa and Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park near New Port Richey.

While Champion believes in bigfoot and said she encountered one in 1992 while hiking with a friend, she said many bigfoot photos and videos are fabricated.

“If you look, you’ll see a few of the biggest hoaxes you’ve ever find (on the Internet),” she said.

Here are a few Skunk Ape / Florida hairy hominid incidents from the archive:

Skunk Ape Comes Calling

Hi Lon

I was checking into recent reports at BFRO and they had one from the county in Florida my aunt and uncle lived for years. My uncle recently passed but my aunt has moved back into the house in this area after retiring to NC. Her son has lived in the house his entire life and is in his 50s. When I read this report I realized this is very close to their house and recent, 2006. But what struck me most about it was an encounter me and my sister had that happened around 1970. We were visiting my aunt and uncle with our parents. My aunt and uncle had a travel trailer in their yard. Me and my sister were young when this happened. I was probably no older than 9 and she is 3 years younger than me. This would be before the Skunk Ape stories later in the 70s.

As it got late my parents made me and her stay in the trailer, away from the adults, so we could sleep. There were no lights on in the trailer. Almost as soon as they left, we heard something walking around that trailer. I was too afraid to look out the window, but I could hear it walking around and making noises, huffing or grunting, weird noises. I don't remember any growling but do remember it would come up close and then move off and come back. Eventually my parents returned, my dad whipped open the door and scared me to death. I can't remember if I told them about it or not, but being so young I doubt they would believe me. The only thing I could think of it being as I got older was a wild boar. But now that I see this article, with the witnesses being members of the county planning council, it makes me wonder if it was a skunk ape curious about us in the trailer. My overall impression that sticks with me to this day was being very scared and having no idea what it could be at that time. I will have to ask my sister if she recalls the event and if she adds anything, I will get back to you.

Take care, B.

BFRO report referenced


Skunk Ape Encounter

Hello - I live in Florida and although I've traveled a bit I always felt this is home. My family is originally from NYC but we've lived here for quite a number of years. I was young and was living with somebody in a trailer out in a horse pasture. There was a campground (Myakka near Sarasota) just on the other side of the pasture, and we had made friends with the people who ran it. It was late summer and a bunch of the campers got together because they would be leaving soon going back home, so a bonfire was being held that evening. There was a trail that led into the campground from where the trailer was, and everyone had gathered at our trailer for a farewell BBQ, then moving down to the campground after for the bonfire.

After I had cleaned up the BBQ mess it was getting dark, so I was pretty much the last one to arrive. The fire was started and we all stood around talking - it was about 9:30 pm. I was standing beside my friend on the outside edge of the fire, when I happened to look across at the treeline. There is a fence there with low lying palm scrub, it divides the other half of the pasture from the campground and back trails. As I looked in that direction I saw two big red eyes staring back at me. The outline of this thing was pretty big by the glow of the firelight. The palm scrub is about 4'ft tall, higher in some spots. Not taking my eyes off this thing I quietly whispered to my friend to look in that direction and don't scream. She did and she whispered to her husband. He said softly to the group not to make any sudden moves. We were talking softly and alerting everyone in the group about the red eyes, and everyone looked and saw what we were seeing.

There was eight of us all totaled, my girlfriend's husband returned with a flashlight and rifle in hand. He handed the flashlight to my friend and told her to shine it at whatever was in the scrub. When she did this thing stood up and made a growling sound. My friend's husband then shot at it and it screamed like nothing I'd ever heard before. It took off into the brush, everybody (except me) in the group ran to get flashlights and whatever to arm themselves with. My friend and I were told to stay by the fire. About that time we heard the horses screaming in the pasture and they hurried to the field. After a while they all returned, they could not find anything and would resume the search at daylight.

The next day blood was found at the fence area and a horse was dead, it's neck was broke and body badly ripped apart. Searches were continued for a couple of days and no one spoke about what happened. After having several things happen where I was staying we left. This was not the only time I have encountered a large red-eyed being, I believe this was in fact a skunk ape/bigfoot, that after being shot at purposely killed that horse. I have on another occasion encountered one again, at night which chased me threw the woods while walking home from my friend's house. I had not known at the time that a body was found mutilated in that area, and that the arms of that poor soul was torn from their body. I was lucky. M

NOTE: Is anybody familiar with a mutilated human believed to have been attacked/killed by a skunk ape? The witness claims to have at least another experience...Lon


The 'Fairvilla Gorilla?'

Late one night in 1968 my mom jumped out of bed and into her housecoat and grabbed her clothes basket, as she had remembered she had left some clothes on the line in the backyard. A few minutes later she came back into the house and as she walked into her bedroom I heard her say to my dad, "Sam, there were two red eyes staring at me from the grove!" Now I'm up and scared. So the three of us went out into the Florida room (sun room) and my dad turned on the backyard light as he opened the door. I was too scared to go outside and too scared to stay in the house alone. As we went out into the backyard my mother showed us where she was standing at the clothesline when she saw the red eyes peering at her in the darkness.

"It was standing right over there between those two orange trees" she said as she pointed toward the darkened grove. My dad told her she had probably seen a 'possum or a raccoon as we went back into the house and back to bed.

I had almost drifted off to sleep when all of a sudden we heard a loud THUMP at the back of the house. My dad almost fell out of bed as he jumped up and exclaimed, "What was that? Greg, did you hear that?!"

Once again, the three of us went to the backdoor to investigate. Daddy turned on the backyard light and just as he opened the door an overwhelming odor permeated the air. "A skunk! It's a doggone skunk!" Daddy said as we walked out into the yard. But the odor was so overwhelming and nauseating it made us beat a hasty retreat back into the house.

Nothing more was seen or heard - or smelled - of our night time visitor.

Years later I became a fortean and developed an interest in cryptozoology. In my readings of the Florida Skunk Ape I learned of the "Fairvilla Gorilla" that was sighted occasionally in the 60's. Fairvilla is a community about three miles north of where we lived in Orlando, Florida. Back in the day it was known for its shopping center which was built on the edge of a large wooded area. Route 441 is known as the Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando. It runs through Fairvilla north to Plymouth, a small community that is on the outer fringes of the Ocala National Forest.

There is an account of a woman who was frightened by the sound of heavy footsteps around her mobile home in that rural area. She grabbed her rifle and ran out of her house toward a swamp which lay between her home and the highway. In her panic she fell. When she looked back, she saw a 'bigfoot' standing beside her house. The frightened woman ran through the swamp and thicket to the highway where she flagged down a motorist. Later that day she returned to her home with friends and found the door had been ripped off by the hinges.

There are many other accounts of the Florida Skunk Ape but for some strange reason they were most numerous back in the sixties. Greg May


The Return of the Okeechobee Ogre

By David Hoes - A Florida couple from Palmdale just reported their recent sighting of a large, hairy, bigfoot-like creature. They spotted the creature while they were camping along Fisheating Creek close to Lakeport, Florida. They were camping near some Indian Mounds, not far from the site of Fort Center, an area that saw heavy fighting during the Second Seminole War. Lakeport is a small retirement and fishing community on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. The mounds are considered a sacred site for Native Americans and contain artifacts along with human remains. There is a small artificial lake among the mounds that is believed to have been a charnal pond for human corpses.

This couple reported hearing and then seeing a large hairy beast outside their tent in the middle of the night. The next morning, they found the carcass of a partially eaten deer nearby. They also found some long reddish-brown hairs on a branch.

Although it has now been mostly forgotten, back in the late 1990s, the Lakeport area was the epicenter a wave of skunk ape sightings.

The first sighting, which wasn't widely reported, happened early one morning in 1995 or 1996., Two hunters and their dogs were travelling by boat down Fisheating Creek, intending to hunt on ranch land that border both sides of the creek. They were hunting without illegally, so they were trying to sneak in and out without being seen.

As they traveled down the creek in their boat they heard something on shore and then caught a bad scent. Thinking it might be wild hogs, the hunters steered the boat to shore and the hunter up front prepared to jump out. However, his dogs refused to leave the boat.

The hunter finally jumped on shore and his flashlight shone on a large creature covered in dark hair that was standing on its hind legs. The hunter immediately jumped back in the boat and the other hunter threw the boat into reverse and headed back out into deeper water. They could hear the creature trying to follow them. According to the hunters, "That it wasn't no bear"

The first widely reported sighting was on November 2, 1997. Fishing guide Ronald Mosley was taking a young couple on an airboat tour when the woman saw what she described as someone in an ape suit. Neither Mosley nor her husband saw the creature, which disappeared into the woods.

Although the woman's claim was not taken seriously, two local fishermen had a sighting a few weeks later. Brian Hammock claimed that he and a companion saw a creature emerge from an aligator hole on the bank. The creature was reported as being hairy and about 6 or 7 foot tall. It left the water and disappeared into the sawgrass. Brian reported going to the area after his sighting and seeing tracks and noticing a "god awful" smell.

By the summer of 1998, there had been quite a few more sightings of what came to be known as "The Okeechobee Ogre." Locals were selling memorabilia and guides were taking visitors on skunk ape tours. There was even an Ogre webcam. According to Fish Camp owner Jim Smith, his camp was "Skunk Ape Central". Smith had several sightings of the creature and made several plaster casts of his prints.

According to Smith the creature is about 7 feet tall and has a horrible smell. Smith claimed to be leaving fish guts out for the creature to eat.

Over time, sightings dropped off. The webcam was taken down; the t-shirts stopped selling. The creature disappeared. Until now.

Interview with anonymous couple.

The Cryptid Creatures of Florida

Cryptid Creatures of Florida: Second Edition

Abominable Snowmen, Legend Comes To Life: Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Oh-Mah, Grassman And Skunk Ape: The Story Of Sub-Humans On Five Continents From The Early Ice Age Until Today Illustrated

Bigfoot! : The True Story of Apes in America

The Beast of Boggy Creek: The True Story of the Fouke Monster

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