Chimp Sighting = Skunk Ape?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 7th, 2006

For the actual photograph, see the new posting, “New Photo: Is It A Skunk Ape?

What if Florida’s supposedly identified but uncaught and out-of-place “apes” are really unknown anthropoids, cryptids all?

As I’ve said and written for years, the recent questionable testimonies and fake photographs by certain people of Pacific Northwest Bigfoot-styled hairy hominids (upright, 7-8 feet tall, human-like) in Florida, which are being called “Skunk Apes” probably have little to do with the actual “Skunk Apes” of the Sunshine State.

Specifically, the traditional “Skunk Ape” sightings, ape-like footprint finds, and knuckle prints, mostly discussed from the 1940s through present, are of unknown anthropoids (not hominids), variously described as running on all fours, around 4 to 5 feet in height, and visually compared to chimpanzees and orangutans.

This is not the first time that the initial reports used one of the known great apes to describe the unknown. See my discussion of the Florida’s Holopaw “Gorilla,” for example, from the 1960s, and Broward County’s 1971 “chimpanzee’s” knuckle prints, in Chapter 11 of Bigfoot!. It will not be the last.

Today, thanks to our friends at The Anomalist , I am alerted to a breaking news story about a sighting and photograph (unpublished, as far as I have been able to discover) of a “chimpanzee” in Santa Rosa County, Florida.

This is encouraging to learn, for in the midst of the hoaxed cases of recent decades, eyewitnesses are still seeing the “real Skunk Apes.”

Chimp Spotted in Santa Rosa County

A Santa Rosa resident called on sheriff’s department investigators last week to help identify a mysterious intruder that looked remarkably like a chimpanzee.

The resident spotted what appeared to be some type of monkey in a nearby field on Thursday. She was able to take a photograph of the animal prior to it leaving the area.

She took the photograph to the Gulf Breeze Zoo, where officials verified that the animal was a chimpanzee. Zoo officials took a count of their chimpanzees and all were accounted for.

Zoo officials, as well as the sheriff’s office, want the public to be aware of the dangers if they encounter this animal. Chimpanzees can be very aggressive and vicious, causing great bodily harm to humans. If this chimpanzee is spotted, the public is urged to not make any attempts to approach the animal and immediately contact local law enforcement so that the appropriate agencies can be contacted to apprehend the animal.

To report further sightings, call the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office at (850) 983-1100.

November 6, 2006
Emerald Coast
Sandestin, Florida
The Walton Sun
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

25 Responses to “Chimp Sighting = Skunk Ape?”

  1. skunkape_hunter responds:

    Not uncommon down here at all. Lots of pets escape, lots more are just let go when they can no longer be controlled. It is a documented fact that there are monkeys in the Silver Spring area that were escaped movie props, from the Tarzan movies.

  2. Loren Coleman responds:

    Contained colonies of escaped squirrel and Rhesus monkeys are much different than known and documented escapes, recaptures, or even known records of orangutans, chimpanzees, and gorillas running amok in Florida. Please point to the “documented” great ape escapes that have happened and/or remain in the wild.

    Yes, Silver Springs’ escapees of Rhesus monkeys from the 1930s’ Tarzan movies are well-known, but they never roamed all over the state. Their movement was generally restricted, and when they started crossing one highway, as they did in the mid-1980s, they were recaptured, relocated, and sometimes killed.

    Indeed, it is my understanding that due to the fear of primate AIDS, a major portion (or all of them) were “eradicated” (the word is from the Florida wildlife dept, not me) in the 1990s.

  3. raisinsofwrath responds:

    In my 15 years of living in South Florida it was almost a weekly occurance that animals not native to the area were spotted. We had enough regular excitement from giant snakes under houses to gators in pools that filled the rest of the time.

    I believe South Florida is a magnet for the smuggling and dealing of exotic animals and am not surprised in the least at a chimp sighting.

  4. goobles responds:

    Several years back in Jacksonville Florida, there was a group of monkeys loose in the area of town known as “Mandarin” (just on the eastern side of the Saint Johns River). I don’t recall what type they were, how they got there, or when/if they were captured (can’t seem to find any info on it right now). It couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9 years ago.

  5. Loren Coleman responds:

    There is absolutely no debate about exotic pet escapees in Florida. There is no debate about monkeys that have escaped and established breeding – but highly visible – colonies.

    But, please, what evidence is there that there are escaped chimps, orangs, and gorillas in the wilds of Florida?

    No rumors, please.


  6. Ranatemporaria responds:

    Sorry Loren don’t want to ad fuel to the rumours but I know for a fact that in the U.K. many wild animals that have escaped go unreported due to the threat of prosecution against those who have kept them. In the 1980s, many wild and dangerous animals were in fact released due to the enforcement of a new “dangerous animals act”. Obviously most due to temperate climate here did not establish themselves. However I think it would be narrow minded to assume any/all instances of escape in Florida, especially of large pongids and the like, would be reported and contained, especially if the animals were kept or smuggled illegally in the first place.

    What evidence is there for much that is discussed here? Perhaps not a lot. That doesn’t make it unworthy of discussion.

  7. btgoss responds:

    Well that photo above looks like “proof” doesn’t it?
    That sure looks like an Orangutan to me.

    But your point is valid. Show proof that known species can survive in the wilds of Florida, and it makes the suggestion that an unknown species might be there as well a valid one.

  8. bill green responds:

    hey loren, great article about the fl chimp it is still getting very interesting. thanks bill.

  9. shovethenos responds:

    Has anyone contacted the witness or the sheriff’s department – whoever is now in possession of the picture – to get a copy scanned and posted?

  10. CryptoHunter133 responds:

    Well, that picture is pretty convincing. I don’t think that is any normal gorilla, orang, chimp. I think it may actually be the legendary cryptid known as the “skunk ape”. Even though the features are similar to chimps, it is pretty convincing.

  11. andy_howey responds:

    My question on the skunk ape issue is this: where is there any fossil evidence of pongids or non-human hominids anywhere in the New World. All there are in terms of physical evidence for non-introduced species are the New World monkeys.

    In the case of the “skunk ape”, the sightings apparently didn’t start until 1977 according to . How long had there been captive gorillas, chimps, and orangutans in this country by that time? The person(s) who made the point that escapees, especially illegally obtained animals, might not be reported due to fear of prosecution has a very valid point.

  12. Loren Coleman responds:

    Skunk ape reports occurred before 1977. Please do not trust internet sources, including this one, as the final answer for anything.

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    P.S. Skunk Apes are probably not indigeous, but (excuse me if I’m boring anyone who has read this theory of mine before) they probably are escapees from slave ships transported over here from Africa/Asia, hundreds of years ago. Escapees yes, but not your run-of-the-mill exotic pet escapees. My theory is, well, just a theory, constructed to fit the evidence I’ve been investigating in the field and the archives since the 1960s.


  14. andy_howey responds:

    That may well be so — I don’t currently have access to an in-depth library in which I could research specific dates. That wasn’t the main point of my comment, though. The main point was the question about fossil evidence (or lack thereof) for unintroduced pongids or non-human hominids anywhere in the New World.

  15. andy_howey responds:

    Is there any evidence in the form of ships logs to support your theory? How detailed were those logs? Supposedly, there was a fairly high attrition rate on those slave ships. If the captains/crews made entries about how many people died in transit, etc., it might be expected that they would at least make passing mention of any more “exotic” cargo, such as live apes.

  16. Loren Coleman responds:

    I understand it may upset some people to hear me say, once again, you need to really read about it here or there – in books, but the whole idea of slave ships and the intertwined transportation of apes on these ships has been explored several times, in articles, and specifically in books, including, of course, these two – Mysterious America and Bigfoot!. Not everything can be answered via a quick exchange of responses in a comments section, and I suggest anyone interested in this matter take to heart their passion and read the referenced sources on the subject which then have more sources mentioned therein.

  17. RockerEm responds:

    idk if its real or not but it sure is convincing to a degree

  18. One Eyed Cat responds:

    Well I am a Florida native and find I have a lot of reading to do on my home state! Most interesting, I never heard of this before.

  19. rifleman responds:

    Are there any known legends of this creature by the native americans that live there?

    Their ancestors lived a lot closer to nature that we could ever hope to. Any sightings of strange animals by them would have been handed down from generation to generation and become part of tribal history.

  20. jasonpix6 responds:

    Something to think about: the big hairy guy AKA bf IS NOT the only species of unknown, undiscovered hair covered
    bipedal out there walking in the US.

    We have 2, maybe even 3 different species. They didn’t get BROUGHT here, turned loose, or escaped.

    They’ve been here, long before us.

    Europe and Asia have at least 3.

    And from reading an researching the yowie, I’M SURE there are 4 different species in the down under.

    To think all bf must fit into some profile, and if it doesn’t, “it must be something we already know about” is to do your research with BLINDERS ON.

  21. rifleman responds:

    Your theory of escaped critters from slave ships is a new one for me! I guess I gotta read up on this one. Thanks for the tip.

    P.S. What happened to the photo that was displayed on this thread?

  22. totnesmartin responds:

    If I remember rightly, the Myakka photos a few years ago were said to be of a chimp (Pan troglodytes verus I think) doing a “pant hoot” – regular chimp behaviour. Unless it was a cardboard cut out, it adds to the Florida chimp idea.

  23. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Escaped population of known pongids of recent origin?

    Escaped population of known pongids of historical origin?

    Unknown indigenous species of pongid?

    Unknown indigenous species of bipedal hominid?

    Regardless of where they may have come from, it is an undeniable fact that fairly large, hairy hominids are roaming the swamps of Florida and occasionally being seen, photographed and (yes) exploited by hoaxers intent on making a quick buck.

  24. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    BUT something is undeniably there, and THAT is a story worth hearing/telling.

  25. steveg3474 responds:

    There would be no fossil evidence for pongids or hominids here in the states if they came across the siberian land bridge when humans supposedly came here. After all there are no fossil humans here. I thought the theory for bigfoot was that he was gigantopithicus that came across that bridge when humans did. Maybe giganto evolved as he moved across the country. With the least amount of evolving closer to the entry point on the continent. Maybe these things we call skunk apes are different from northwest america bigfoot. Maybe they evolved to the specific climate they live in here. Maybe humans did not evolve at the same rate because we are a more “perfect” animal that is able to adapt to our surroundings due to a higher intelligence level. I would be interested in knowing if there any Seminole legends of bigfoot or similar creatures. That could give you a time line for a modern introduction of “skunk apes” into Florida. Its a lot of maybes, but that’s the way the unknown is.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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