By: Jessica Stacey-Miller
The Skunk Ape is a bipedal humanoid reported to live in the South Eastern United States. There are reports of sightings in Arkansas and North Carolina but the majority of reports are from the Florida Everglades. The ape is possibly a Bigfoot and described as having reddish brown to black fur, red glowing eyes and an incredibly horrid smell like rotting, rancid food. Estimates of the creature’s height vary significantly, some as small as four feet up to ten feet tall. The ape has several known names: Swamp Cabbage Man, The Nico, Swamp Ape, Stink Ape, Florida Bigfoot, Myakka Skunk Ape, Swampsquatch and the Bardin Booger.
Reports of the Skunk Ape started in 1942 when a man claimed that one of the creatures hitched a ride on his running board for over half a mile. In 1997 foreign tourists traveling on a bus claimed to have seen the creature. That same year a naturalist working in the Everglades also reported seeing the creature and described it as being over 7 feet tall. In 2000 pictures of the Skunk Ape were sent to the police along with a letter from an anonymous elderly woman. The letter stated that a large ape had been entering her back yard and stealing apples and lemons over the course of 3 nights. Her husband believed it looked like an orangutan and complained the horrible smell lasted long after it left.
Joe Nickell is a skeptical researcher who has been researching the claims and reports of the Skunk Ape and believes many of the sightings are actually hoaxes or possible misidentification of other wildlife animals such as bears. The black bear has many of the characteristics that have been reported. The rancid smell could be explained by the logic that bears often scavenge for food in garbage bins and they also eat other animals. A large bear can reach around seven feet tall when standing on their hind legs. The National Park Service classifies the Skunk Ape to be a hoax as there has been no concrete evidence to suggest its existence. This has not stopped reports however and many sightings still continue to this day.
Dave Shealy claims to have seen the skunk ape in 1974 at the age of ten. He continued to search for the creature for many years, seeing him on three other occasions. He is the self proclaimed local expert and has even made TV appearances. On July 8, 2000 Shealy captured a video of the Skunk Ape. Though there have not been any verified claims and National Park Services has stated the Skunk Ape is a hoax, Shealy responds by stating the swamp is over 2.2 million acres and one of the largest areas of protected land which is rarely visited.
What do you think? Is the Skunk Ape a case of mistaken animal identity? A hoax? Or is the Skunk Ape real?