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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 21:30 GMT 22:30 UK
Ape tape divides experts
'skunk-ape'
Is this really the mysterious 'skunk-ape'?
By Malcolm Brabant in Miami

A campsite owner in the Florida Everglades is calling on the state government to enact new laws to protect a creature known as the yeti of the swamps, or skunk ape.

Researchers say they have received credible evidence from indigenous Indians living in the swamp that such a creature exists.

And they want to examine a video taken by the campsite owner, David Shealey. He says the tape proves the skunk ape's existence. Sceptics believe its an elaborate hoax.


There was something tall and black standing there, about seven feet tall

David Shealey

According to South Florida folklore, the skunk ape is the long lost cousin of the abominable snowman, so-named because it supposedly smells like rotten eggs.

Swamp guide David Shealey has the most incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time. He doesn't own a video camera.

But he says he borrowed one to film some Everglades deer ... and lo and behold.

"There was something tall and black standing there, about seven feet tall. As I zoomed in on it, I could see arm movements," he reveals.

"That's when I realised immediately that I was photographing a skunk ape" he adds.

Hoax

Bill Bang, an enthusiastic hunter, is one of the sceptics who believe this latest sighting is a hoax.

Hunter Bill Bang
Hunter Bill Bang has his doubts

"I've spent 30-plus years splashing around out there, I've never seen any evidence of anything like it," he says.

But it is not the figment of David Shealey's imagination, according to anthropologist Bob Carr, who together with tracker Ted Riggs has been collecting evidence about the skunk ape for a quarter of a century

Both are convinced that there is at least some kind of unidentified creature out there.

Ted Riggs points to the enormous amount of strength a creature would need to be able to bound through the swamp as shown on the Shealey tape.

But Carr warns that although he believes there is some kind of creature out there, hoaxes only make it all the more challenging to track down the genuine article.

Seemingly only a corpse can finally prove the existence of the shadowy beast once and for all - but that's an idea that horrifies David Shealey.

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See also:

20 Oct 98 | South Asia
Himalayan climber's abominable sighting
11 Jun 99 | Sci/Tech
Webcam nets Nessie?
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