Category Archives: Animal Underground

Weird wildlife of America with Ken Gerhard (Podcast)

We take a deep dive into the unknown with author/explorer/television host/cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard on a recent edition of “Moore Outdoors”.

In it we talk everything from chupacabra to Bigfoot to mysterious winged animals and the fact that to research the unexplained you need a really good grasp of the explainable.

Ken is a phenomenal guest. You don’t want to miss this edition.

Loren Coleman and Chester Moore talk Patterson Gimlin film (Podcast)

On Friday Oct. 20, Chester Moore had renown cryptozoology author  Loren Coleman on as a special guest on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.

The program was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the controversial Patterson/Gimlin film that allegedly depicts as a Bigfoot creature crossing a stretch of Bluff Creek in northern California.

If you have an interest in this topic you do not want to miss this episode.

Patterson/Gimlin film 50 Years Later

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the most controversial wildlife footage ever captured.

On Oct. 20, 1967 Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin captured on film what they alleged was a Bigfoot (sasquatch) creature on a desolate stretch of Bluff Creek in northern California.

This is the footage that plays in virtually every sasquatch-based television special and even in commercials.

Frame 352 showing the film’s subject walking with its arms swinging is the template for hundreds of products in the cottage industry that has grown up around the sasquatch phenomenon and even the arm swing itself is used in many obvious fake videos over the years.

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Frame 352 of the Patterson/Gimlin film. (Fair Use Doctrine)

This footage has been analyzed more than any other than the Zapruder film showing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Numerous individuals have claimed the film was a fake and claimed to have been the man in the suit or that they actually created it.

One man even claims it was made from red horse hair.

Roger Patterson who was holding the camera that day died of cancer in 1972 and maintained what they filmed was real.

Bob Gimlin who is still living and until recent years has mainly avoided the topic also maintains he and his partner captured the image of a living sasquatch, not a man in a suit.

There have been many alleged sasquatch videos captured in the last 50 years but why does this one not only endure but remain the epicenter of media attention on the topic?

As a wildlife journalist I have wrestled with the question many times over the last 25 years.

I have an interest in the topic and have done my share of field research and investigating eyewitnesses. In my opinion this whole phenomenon is important because it is either the greatest source of mass fraud and hallucination the wildlife world has ever seen or its a truly epic discovery waiting to happen.

And I personally get tired of the film itself outshining other aspects of the phenomenon. There are some legitimately interesting things happening on the scientific end of this search.

But the fact remains if it is a fake, why haven’t many better ones been produced since then?

How could two cowboys in an era where Planet of the Apes was the shining example of costume makeup effects produce something that no one has even gotten close to getting?

Not a single alleged sasquatch video is as clear, close up and contains anywhere near as much detail as the Patterson/Gimlin film.

Not even close.

A question that must be asked is if it was so easy to fake in 1967 why haven’t there been many more much better fakes come out as special makeup effects technology has increased dramatically?

Even the BBC with a budget much bigger than Patterson and Gimlin’s abilities failed to produce anything that looked even remotely as realistic as what was captured on Bluff Creek 50 years ago.

Either it is a fake or the most important wildlife footage ever captured. There are no in-betweens.

That is why today this is a worthy subject to write about and the entire phenomenon is one that although problematic in many ways deserves further investigation.

Wildlife filming history was made 50 years ago.

Whether the film is legitimate or not may never be settled but without any doubt the Patterson/Gimlin film has its place in history.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

Enter the Animal Underground

I once walked into the mouth of an old railroad tunnel.

Covered in vines and decaying it looked a bit ominous, even from a distance.

Many years previous trains would cut through as they winded through the limestone encrusted hills of the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas.

Now the tunnel is home to more than a million of Mexican free tail baits.

Passing by during the day or even walking nearby one would never know of their presence unless they maybe caught a sniff of the guano (bat dung).

But at night, these bats exit the tunnel and travel into the darkness in pursuit of insects and they return before dawn.

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In the 1800s, a network of safe houses and secret routes called the “Underground Railroad” saw thousands of African American slaves find their way to freedom out of states where slavery was legal.

Thinking about the tunnel reminded me there is an underground network of sorts for animals, paths in which they can travel without the system taking notice.

The animals themselves of course are not aware of it although by sheer instinct they use it to their advantage.

It is a mindset in the culture of wildlife viewing, academia, media coverage and the hunting and fishing community that things with wildlife are supposed to go “by the book” and anything challenging the official narrative is ignored outright assailed.

In 2002, I spent a day in the field in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in Louisiana with researchers David Luneau and Martian Lammertink in search of the ivory-billed woodpecker, a species at the time considered extinct. Zeiss Sports Optics sponsored a truly rare look at a species often reported but believed long gone.

We never saw any ivory bills but I saw two men intent on at least searching out what could be an incredibly important find.

In 2004, Luneau obtained a video in Arkansas that the US Fish and Wildlife Service itself considers to be an ivory bill-a previously though extinct bird.

It goes along with other recordings and research suggesting there are a few ivory bills out there.  However, the official narrative is the species is still lost.

Many don’t want to touch the topic with a 10 foot pole.

Ivorybills?!

Did they ever exist anyway?

That’s what many act like.

And its this very lack of “official” interest that allows such species to hide in the shadows beyond the attention of those who can verify and perhaps save certain ones.

Most scientists tow the line on mysterious wildlife because their careers are centered on grants and anything outside the norm might rock the financial boat too much.

The hunting and fishing community dodges controversial wildlife topics for fear of government intervention especially in relation to the Endangered Species Act.

Amateur naturalists are quick to skip over the mysterious for fear of public ridicule and loss of access to property.

And the media doesn’t really care unless they can spin it into the next viral story, often shaming those who are dare to question things or belittling the off the wall topics altogether.

I am too curious to ignore the stories that require stepping into the shadows. I crave the opportunity to pursue mysteries of the wildlife kind-controversial or not.

Growing up in the 80s, the intro to syndicated horror anthology series Tales from the Darkside used to terrify me.

That is terrify me enough to watch.

Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But… there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit… a Darkside. (Series Intro)

I won’t call the animal underground a “dark side” in terms of evil but it certainly not as brightly lit as what most see.

Maybe it’s time to light a candle.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

Smallest mature whitetail buck ever? Micro deer exist! (Photos & more)

“It was the size of a labrador retriever”.

My late uncle Jackie Moore was a man of few words but when he told a story it always seemed to have an interesting twist.

“It crossed the road in front of us on in San Saba and it had a full eight point rack but it was half the size of a normal whitetail.”

He related that account several times and after his passing I mentioned it to my father (his brother) and was shocked at what I heard.

“I saw one of those little bucks down in San Saba too. We hunted the same lease and I saw one there. It was half the size of the other bucks with a full rack.”

Considering the Texas Hill Country has some of the nation’s smallest deer, that would put the weight of this tiny buck at around 40 pounds.

After pondering this I started looking for photographic evidence.

Photos of someone holding a super tiny fawn that fits in one’s hands circulate on the net and often  claim they are whitetail. They are not. Those are muntjac deer which hail from Asia and only get to about 35 pounds at adulthood.

Here’s a shot of me with a muntjac fawn that was a couple of weeks old when the photo was taken.

After blogging on this issue last fall a reader sent a photo that is without a doubt the best proof of “micro whitetails” I have ever seen and this is the first time it has been published.

Reader “Alonzo” sent in this photo from a game camera.

Notice the small buck is in the foreground so it should appear larger than the one in the background. That means this deer is indeed a tiny one and would fit the size description of the ones my Dad and Uncle encountered in Central Texas more than 40 years ago.

In conducting an Internet search on the topic I found several references.

We use to have one where I went to college. Can’t remember what everyone named it but it was a dwarf deer. People would see it all the time and it was about half the size of a normal adult deer as well. These deer were very tame too as they were never hunted in an urban area so you could get fairly close to them. Use to trap deer there and then tackle them so we could put tags in them and do some research. Tried to get the mini but never did get him to go in one of the traps. (From T_3 Kyle on Taxidermy.net)

I was watching some hunting show. I can’t remember which one it was, but they showed a midget whitetail buck walking down a trail. It was neat looking, short stubby legs and it had a nice little rack too. (From JMBFishing2008 on Indianasportsman.com)

The Key Deer is the smallest subspecies of whitetail and it is found only in the Florida Keys chain of islands. The next smallest is the Carmen Mountains Whitetail found in a remote mountainous region of West Texas and northern Mexico.

The Key Deer is the smallest whitetail deer subspecies.
The Key Deer is the smallest whitetail deer subspecies. (Photo courtesy Wiki Commons)

Is there a recessive gene akin to dwarfism in whitetails? Have you seen one of these deer? If you then shoot us over a report or preferably a photo or video link to chester@kingdomzoo.com.

Whitetails are the most common large animal in North America and the idea of micro versions running about is truly fascinating.

Chester Moore, Jr.

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Do white cougars exist?

Black cougars do not exist.

At least none have been verified by science, killed by hunters, mounted by taxidermists or reared in zoos and other animal facilities.

But are there white ones?

In January 2016 an interesting story broke via KLTV out of Tyler, TX. Landowner Mitchell Cox of Hughes Springs captured on video what he and many others thinks is a “white panther”.

“When I first saw the white animal, the first thing I thought was, it was a dog. I feel blessed to actually be able to see it,” said landowner Mitchell Cox in the KLTV story.

“The cat jumps across about a six foot creek there. At first, my initial thought was it was an edited video, but upon talking to people I believe it’s true. A white albino mountain lion,” investigator Hershel Stroman, of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office told KLTV officials.

The video is interesting and the animal moves like a cougar but without a closer video (this one was short 50 yards away) it is difficult to tell. Watch it below.

The photo included here is a standard color cougar rendered in Adobe Photoshop to show what a white specimen might look like.

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A computer rendering of a standard cougar to show what it might look like in white form.   (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

In 2011 a white cougar was born at the Attica Zoological Park in Greece and was aptly named “Casper”. That alone is more proof of white cougar existence than has ever come forward for that of black specimens.

It is important to keep in mind the large black cats seen in zoos and on television or black (melanistic) jaguars or leopards. They are not a separate species called a “black panther”.

“Panther” is one of many terms used for Felis concolor along with cougar, mountain and puma but it has nothing to do with them being black.

A high resolution video or photo of a white cougar would be a major discovery in the United States and cause a major wave of interest among those who study wild cats.

The public has a major fascination with unusual white and albino animals.

Whether they are deer or wild cats there is something mysterious and majestic about an elusive white animal like the revered white buffalo of the Great Plains.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Monkey encounters deer at hunter’s feeder (photos)

Last week’s posts on feral snow monkeys in Texas have garnered a tremendous amount of interest.

Our goal is always to raise awareness to wildlife and in the case of exotics it is good to let people know there are strange encounters to be had-it seems especially in my home state of Texas.

Bart Moore read our story and graciously shared a story from his deer lease in South Texas and some a truly remarkable series of photos.

My brother-in-law is also on the lease and he was the first one that I know of that encountered one on our lease while hunting.  He was in the middle of a field in a ground blind when he saw some movement.  He looked over and saw a monkey headed in his direction.  The macaque noticed him just after he saw him and immediately puffed out his chest and got very red.  He walked in his direction and veered off before he was too close. For good measure, my brother-in-law had him in his sights the whole time with no intention of shooting him unless he was attacked.

Fast forward to last year and I was sitting in a blind one morning watching a doe and two fawns eating some corn from the feeder.  I noticed something too small for a deer on the ground and at first assumed it was a pig.  I glassed the animal and found that it was not a pig but was a monkey clearly on our side of the fence.  I took out my iPhone and snapped several pics with the phone up against my scope that are attached.

Dilley Monkey 1
The monkey enters the scene.
Dilley Monkey 2
Inching closer. Curious George maybe?

 

Dilley Monkey 3
“The funniest picture is the one where the monkey looks like he is swiping at the deer as they run off, in reality he is just reaching higher up the leg of the feeder.” (Bart Moore)
Dilley Monkey 5
Bart Moore says the money did not spook the deer. Something else did.
Dilley Monkey 6
“He slowly came down the leg after several seconds and then proceeded to puff out his chest and walk off into the brush”. (Bart Moore)

I can’t possibly thank Mr. Moore enough for sharing these photos. It seems these animals have found a niche and the hunters in the area have a live and let live policy. Good for them.

These monkeys are making things interesting.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

“Black panther” captured on TX game camera?

“Black panther” reports are common in the American South.

Accounts of mysterious black cats crossing the road in front of motorists or seen by hunters are frequent but rarely backed up by photography.

In my 25 years of wildlife journalism I have learned most people assume the animals they are seeing are black (melanistic) cougars. The problem is cougars do not produce melanistic offspring and there has never in history been one documented by science.

So, what are people seeing?

That question is broad and we will dive into that in another post, however one possible solution is the jaguarundi.

The late Don Zaidle who wrote extensively on man-eating animals was doing some research on wild cats and suggested 16 years ago I look at the jaguarundi as a possible “black panther” suspect. Shortly after I actually saw one of these cats and it sort of clicked that people could be seeing these animals and call them a “black panther”.

After all, virtually no one outside of hardcore wildlife fans even knows that jaguarundi exists so “black panther” is a quick an easy label to give them.

These photos came from B. Harper who got them on a game camera near the Texas-Mexico line.

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jaguarundi tail

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My friend Jim Broaddus operates Bear Creek Feline Center near Panama City, Fla. and has some of the only captive jaguarundi in America. Here is what he had to say about the photos.

“The first image looks 100 percent like a jaguarundi. The second one of the tail looks promising.  The third one throws me off. If it’s a jaguarundi it been eating better than most and the head seems too large to me,” Broaddus said.

I will add that the photo of the tail also looks promising because of the slate gray coloration of the fur. That is classic jaguarundi although they can be even darker and a solid brown color as well.

Below is a crop and lighting enhanced version of the third photo. Keep in mind this is in a part of the country where all five native Texas cat species once dwelled and may possibly do so to this day. These are the bobcat, cougar, ocelot, jaguar and jaguarundi.

When people hear “black panther” they think of cats like the one below but this is a black leopard-a genetic variant of the typical Asian and African species. We are not talking about leopards or jaguars which also produce black offspring in this scenario.  As I said we’ll cover all of that in another blog.

1leopard

What do you think is the identify of this mysterious cat? Like Broaddus I am sold on photo 1 being jaguarundi but also believe photo 2 is one as well. Photo 3 is up for grabs but it could also be a jaguarundi as well. Some say it is a domestic house cat but there is something about it that I can’t pinpoint. Ah, maybe in my next post I can figure it out.

E-mail chester@kingdomzoo.com with your thoughts and share this post with others to get their opinion.

Don’t forget you can subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the top right bar on this page.

Chester Moore, Jr.

what is this cat black panther

More on Texas feral monkeys (Photos & Stories)

Wow!

The response to our story on feral monkeys in South Texas has been tremendous. Click here to read in case you missed it. If you would like to subscribe to this blog to keep up with these kinds of stories enter your email address in the form to the top right of this page.

Since our original posting we have received several interesting stories and photos from people who have encountered these animals.

First up is an account shared by Rico Ramirez.

I had a client of mine who hunted near Dilley, TX. His story was quite haunting.  He stated that it was during the peak of the rut season.  It was very early In the morning when he was in  the stand. All I know is that it was still dark.  He had his small lamp with him.  He was reading a magazine when he heard a huge bump and the stand actually felt like it moved. He said the  bump and thump was getting louder as if someone was on the stand.  He said he reached for his pistol not knowing if it was an illegal, smuggler, or run away inmate.  He shined his flashlight through the window out of the door when it got quiet.  Then he said the noise was then on the roof of the blind.  He was in survival mode and scared.  He said there was a window that was open for air when he saw a small human like hand was trying to get in.  He said the hand was moving in an up and down motion. The hand was somewhat furry. He said he ran out the door leaving most of his gear in the stand.   He didn’t return till sunrise got his things and called the land owner.

He went on to say the landowner said it was probably one of those (fill in the blank) monkeys.

A gentleman from Richland Rock Resources shared this photo from a few years ago of one of the monkeys near a drill site in Cotulla, TX.

monkey gate

This message came from Becky Rubin.

I, unfortunately don’t have a photo to share of these monkeys in Texas. But I do have a story. In the late seventies, or early 80s I took a Primate Behavior class at UT. We took a field trip to see these Japanese macaques and camped over night. It was a fantastic experience to have the monkeys run up to the cars and be so close to them. I’d love to see photos from any other UT student’s visits to Dilley.  loved reading the article. It brought back a really fun memory!

Well, Becky we do have a photo for you.

Lorrie Ramirez took a special topic course in Primate Behavior in the Spring of ’95, when she was an undergrad student at The University of Texas-Pan American and documented her encounter.

We went to observe the macaques in Dilley as part of our course work. In this picture, I was pretending to eat like the macaques were and moved in close to get this shot. Just thought I would share.

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People often see things in the wild they cannot explain. Coming across a Japanese macaque in the arid thorn-infested brush country of South Texas would certainly confuse most people.
We believe it is important to educate people about all aspects of wildlife and even appreciate the oddities in the field. In fact, we tend to seek those things out most often due to the curiosity of me and my family and the passionate response of those who follow this blog.
Once again if you have photos, video or accounts of these monkeys or other feral primates not only in Texas but anywhere in the United States please send to chester@kingdomzoo.com.
If you would like to subscribe to this blog to keep up with these kinds of stories enter your email address in the form to the top right of this page.
Chester Moore, Jr.

Feral monkeys in Texas (photo and more)

The thorn-filled plains of South Texas are the epitome of biodiversity. From the gorgeous green jay to the massive indigo snake the region is a wildlife haven.

As a veteran bowhunter (who wishes to remain anonymous) climbed into a stand overlooking a drying creek bottom he wondered if the big whitetail buck he had been pursuing would reveal itself this evening.

It is after all what drew him here and with the wind blowing into his face and away from what he thought was the buck’s bedding area, everything was perfect.

There was one small glitch.

He did however get to the stand a late and he would only have about an hour before dark to make it happen.

That’s “ok” he figured as these are the minutes when the wild lands come alive.

Then he heard it.

A high-pitched bellowing scream that echoed throughout the bottoms.

As his adrenaline production went into overload, he pondered what might be making the sound and why it was coming his direction. The screams got louder and louder, so he readied an arrow just incase.

snow-monkey
Photo courtesy M. Odom

Suddenly from out of the underbrush walked a large monkey. With a pinkish-red face and gray body it walked along the edge of the treeline before eventually disappearing into the shadows.

It was a shocking sight for sure. How did a monkey end up in South Texas?

Well, at at least it was not the monster he had pictured in his imagination.

There exists an area in the South Texas Plains where a population of Japanese macaques live and they have a long, bizarre story.

National Geographic covered them in a documentary. Watch this clip to the get the basics.

The Snow Monkeys of Texas (National Geographic) from Harrison Witt on Vimeo.

One of our readers M. Odom snapped this photo of one of the monkeys on his deer lease near Dilley, TX so we had to share.

Have you ever seen a monkey in Texas? If so we would love to see the photos. Send to chester@kingdomzoo.com. If you would like to subscribe to this blog to keep up with these kinds of stories enter your email address in the form to the top right of this page.

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Chester Moore, Jr.