Thursday 9 December 2010

Mike Conley reports on the Skunk Ape

Mike Conley's Tales of the Weird: Folks in central Florida report seeing Skunk Ape
By Mike Conley
Published: December 08, 2010
Last week, my wife and I were enjoying the sunny, warm weather in central Florida, which is quite a change from what we’ve experienced here in western North Carolina this week. Central Florida is home, of course, to the Walt Disney World resort and numerous other tourist attractions.But Florida is also home to the legend of the Skunk Ape, which is the Sunshine State’s version of Bigfoot.The hairy creature that walks upright around the Florida woods and swamps is called the Skunk Ape because of its notoriously bad odor. Folks who have reported seeing it describe the creature’s smell as a combination of a skunk, rotten eggs and cow manure. People in Florida have reported seeing or hearing the Skunk Ape for more than 200 years now. And in the past 20 years, about 75 reported sightings have been turned in. The Skunk Ape is thought to live in Florida’s swamps and especially the Everglades, according to a website.In 2004, a woman reported seeing one while driving down a rural road in Polk County, Fla. This county in central Florida, which is where we spent our vacation last week, is close to Walt Disney World and the city of Orlando. It is also far north of the Everglades, which are in the deep southern part of the state.In August 2004, Jennifer Ward was driving on Moore Road in northern Polk County. It was just a few days after Hurricane Charley swept through the area. While driving down the rural road, Ward, who was 30 at the time, glanced to her left and saw something she would never forget.What she reportedly saw was a large humanoid creature covered in dark hair with whitish rings around its eyes. The mysterious creature stood erect in a drainage ditch along the road. Ward estimated that it stood about 8 feet tall, according to a website.
“It looked like it was doing something; it was focused on something,” said Ward in an online article. “Whenever it saw me, it probably took on the facial expression I had on because I was dumbfounded. It just watched me as I drove by.”Ward insisted that what she saw alongside the road that day was definitely not a bear. She didn’t stop and get a closer look because her two daughters were sleeping in the back seat. Ward said she feared the creature might attack her Toyota, if she had stopped or slowed down. However, Ward did go back to the scene later to search for hair or footprints. She didn’t find any evidence that the creature had been there.The sighting of what could have been a Skunk Ape left an indelible impression on Ward.“I’ve heard about Bigfoot and stuff,” she said later. “I didn’t really think it existed, but I’m convinced now.”
Contact Mike Conley at 652-3313, ext. 3422 or e-mail

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