Blog: Conservation Conversations with Jamie


Bigfoot, is that you?

Let’s be honest.  Most people don‘t think science is fun and when someone tries to make it fun, it gets labeled as a “junk science.”  Granted, we all know science is important, but rarely do we think science can be a great adventure for the mind.  Millions of dollars are spent annually looking for Bigfoot.  TV shows, tours, and hunting equipment can be easily found, but is there any real “science” behind the search for Big Foot?  Yes, there is and it’s called Cryptozoology.

Cryptozoology is the study of hidden animals. The existence of certain species, like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, has been debated for hundreds of years. Scientists have even put together a list of what is and what is NOT a hidden animal or cryptid. A cryptid can be an animal that is found outside of its native habitat without human intervention, like the Milwaukee lion spotted last year. Conversely, the Burmese Python epidemic in Florida, while scientifically significant, isn’t a cryptid appearance. 

Historic photo of the Loch Ness Monster- definitely a cryptid.

Reports of sightings of animals considered extinct are also cryptozoological creatures. While we don’t have any physical evidence of Tasmanian Tigers in the wild, some Australian Aboriginal people still see these elusive creatures to this day. Some cryptids even have relatives that have been scientifically proven to exist. So far we haven’t found any reliable fossil evidence of an Andean wolf, Stripped Manta Ray, or the Loch Ness Monster, but we know that wolves, rays, AND ancient marine reptiles do in fact exist. I know what you are thinking and, no, cryptozoologists don’t believe zombies, angels, and demons are cryptids. Are they cool? Yes. Are they cryptids? No.

Here at Brookfield Zoo we have a few examples of cryptozoological animals you can visit. The great Koolakamba from Africa is a hybrid of a gorilla and a chimpanzee. While scientists have been remiss in their search, Tropic World Africa seems to have found them. Ok, well maybe not, but we do have Koola and her daughter Kamba and yes, they are named after the Koolakamba. 

We have had many reported sightings of the elusive "Koolakamba," right here in Tropic World!

Believe it or not the Okapi was once a cryptozoological animal, too. Discussed amongst African’s indigenous people for centuries, it hadn’t been seen by biologists until 1901. You can spot our own cryptozoological Okapis on your visit to our zoo. And finally, we have Bigfoot here at the zoo.  Seriously, you can spot him on your walks around Swan Lake. He stands VERY still and closely resembles a chainsaw carving, but you can judge for yourself.

Okapis were once a cryptozoological legend, now they're just plain legendary!

Have you ever spotted a cryptozoological animal in your back yard? I’d love to hear about your sightings!

Posted: 3/15/2016 2:05:12 PM by

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.