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Geographical Index > United States > Florida > Sarasota County > Article # 107

Media Article # 107
Article submitted by Richard Noll


Tuesday, February 13, 2001

Absolute kinda irrefutable proof of Skunk Ape

By STEVE OTTO
The Tampa Tribune


Snicker if you want. Some of you obviously just don't appreciate having your own monster right in the neighborhood.
Michelle at the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office faxed me some material along with a cryptic note, ``Don't monkey around with this.''

So, if something smells bad out in your back yard and you look out there with your flashlight and run smack dab into a hairy creature with bad breath that is not your husband, I told you so.

I was on the first real Skunk Ape expedition over 20 years ago deep into the Everglades.

OK, so it wasn't that deep, and we stayed at the Holiday Inn in Fort Lauderdale.

But we actually did meander into the edges of the Everglades, although the strangest creatures we saw were in the lounge back at the motel.

Anyhow, the Skunk Ape, a Florida version of Bigfoot, gradually slipped back into oblivion, resurrected only during the dog days of the year when columnists are desperate for a story.

Now - well you can see for yourself - that the Skunk Ape has returned. Not only is he back, he's practically in our back yard.

The story is filed in the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office under ``Suspicious Incident.'' The officer on the desk in his report on Jan. 18 says:

``I received an unusual letter addressed to the animal services of the sheriff's office. The letter told of an encounter with a monkey or ape and contained two photos. The letter was anonymous.''

In part, the letter says: ``Enclosed please find some pictures I took. ... My husband thinks it is an orangutan. Is someone missing an orangutan?

``It is in a crouching position in the middle of standing up from where it was sitting. It froze as soon as the flash went off. ... I heard the orangutan walk off into the brushes.

``I judge it as being about six and a half to seven feet tall. As soon as I realized how close it was, I got back to the house.

``It had an awful smell that lasted well after it had left my yard. The orangutan was making deep `woomp' noises.

``For two nights prior, it had been taking apples that my daughter brought down from up north off our back porch. It only came back one more night after that and took some apples that my husband left out in order to get a better look at it.

``We got a dog back there now, and, as far as I can tell, it hasn't been back.

``I don't want any fuss or people with guns traipsing around behind our house. At the very least, this animal belongs in a place like Busch Gardens.

``Why haven't people been told that an animal this size is loose? ... Please look after this situation. I don't want my backyard to turn into someone else's circus.''

Naturally, this story has found its way onto the Internet and the ``experts'' are on a roll. One has speculated that it is one of three things:

(1) A hoaxer wearing an ape suit,

(2) an escaped chimpanzee, or

(3) an as yet-undiscovered large anthropoid, per the ``Unknown Pongid'' type discussed in ``The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and other Mystery Primates Worldwide.'' You can guess which choice is leading the Internet pack.

David Barkasy runs the Silver City Serpentarium in Sarasota. He says he deals mostly in reptiles and arachnids.

He also wanted me to promise not to make fun of him, and we'll honor that. He says a friend of his at the sheriff's office showed him the photos. Barkasy asked some other people to look at them, and the rest is what urban legends are made of.

``I have been going down I-75 trying to figure out which house the photos were taken at,'' he said. ``I don't believe in UFOs and things that go bump in the night. But I am curious.''

There may be nothing to this, but already I have contacted our project editor here at the Type and Gripe factory to see about organizing an expedition.

It's a little early in the planning stage, but I'm thinking of setting up a base camp at Yoder's Amish Restaurant, which is near I-75 in Sarasota and has the best pies in Florida.

We'll keep you posted.


Bibliographical Information:

Photo by: Photo provided by Sarasota County Sherrif's office
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office received an anonymous letter with this picture enclosed in it.


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