Giant Sloth in Ohio River Valley?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 26th, 2011

Boonville, Ind., Aug. 18. [1937] – (U.P.) – A stranger who declined to identify himself strolled into the newspaper office here today and declared that the weird, mysterious beast whose screams and prowlings have terrified residents of the Ohio river valley is simply a giant sloth.

The man said he and his uncle were returning home from Mexico two years ago with the sloth, which they had captured on a game hunting expedition. He said they lost it near Evansville and never had found a trace of it since. He was uncertain if it was two-toed or three-toed, but averred that sloths came in both varieties.

When a sloth is hungry and frightened, he said, it will give vent to blood-curdling shrieks and yells such as terrified river valley residents have reported they have heard intermittently since Friday night [August 13].

At that time Mrs. Ralph Duff reported she caught a fleeting glimpse of the animal and said it looked like an ape.

Posses, according to reports here, are searching the river bottoms cautiously in the hope of tracking the beast to its lair.

River folk said today that they had seen an empty circus truck in the vicinity, and assumed that animal experts are endeavoring to capture the alleged monster also.“Sloth Scares the Boonville Natives,” Hammond Times, Hammond, Indiana, Wednesday, August 18, 1937.

Ah, the old circus truck hanging around the edges of the story, humm? It seems those stories about the circus people wanting to capture one of these mystery creatures to add to their collections are almost as common as those in which the same creatures are escaping from wrecked circus trains!

It is intriguing to find the tension between the “giant ground sloth” theory versus the “great ape” hypothesis we see being played out in the Amazon during the last few years was experienced in Indiana in the 1930s.

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.

5 Responses to “Giant Sloth in Ohio River Valley?”

  1. Cryptoraptor responds:

    It’s intriguing but I find it hard to believe that giant sloths were alive in Mexico or the US in 1937.

    However, it would be great if a few did survive and I have wondered if some bigfoot sightings may have actually been giant sloth sightings. As remote as surviving sloths in North America may be the odds of bigfoot existing are much wilder.

    Although some form of giant sloth in the Amazon may be within the realm of possibilities, the only cryptid I’d personally invest any time or money investigating is Orang Pendek.

  2. John Thompson via Facebook responds:

    Amazon rainforest mebbe but near civilisation no way

  3. Christopher Stine via Facebook responds:

    Highly doubtful.

  4. Jerry D. Coleman responds:

    Boonville, Indiana interesting! The village of Boonville was the stage of another mysterious encounter which occurred in the late 1800’s. An alleged ape man was spotted, shot at and reported on the outskirts of town. As the article of the 1937 incident reads, a near identical report speaks of the earlier event, including: Posses, searching the river bottoms, and tracking the beast to its lair. A 1983 “FATE” magazine article (found at the International Cryptozoology Museum) states the wild man or ape man was cornered in an old abandoned mine shaft and smoked out. Disoriented, the beast was captured and bound, however soon as the creature regained it’s bearings it tore the ropes away and at great speed ran off into the woods.

    Again, interesting that such a small town (2000 census 6800) and with the only claim to fame being Abraham Lincoln studied law there would also be the setting for not one but two creature sightings and chased by posses within a 50 year time period.

  5. theo responds:

    Looking this case up in my files I note that the Hammond Times published an article on August 16 on the Boonville monster, two days before the above reprinted article.

    There we read that “They’re looking for a hairy ape near here today after a monster has terrorized the community…Ralph Duff, a fisherman, first reported the animal about a year ago after his police dog was torn to shreds in an encounter with the beast…Mrs Duff… saw a tower monster larger than a bear. When she screamed, the beast ran away. Duff believes that the animal is a huge ape, which lives in one of the caves along the river, and has set a number of bear traps.”

    Source: ‘Sounds Like a Bear Yarn’, Hammond Times, Hammond, Indiana, 16 August 1937.

    Best regards,


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