I spoke with Jon Downes by phone over the weekend, and all is going good. And here's the press-release to accompany Jon and Corinna's current expedition to Texas to seek out the truth of the state's "Blue Dog"/"Texas Chupacabras" phenomenon:
For Immediate release:
The earliest animal recognisable as the ancestor of modern dogs, foxes and wolves was Prohesperocyon, which evolved in southern Texas about 40 million years ago. Other species followed, and Texas can rightly be called 'The Cradle of Dogs.' Now, in the early 21st Century there are strange new dogs around in the Lone Star State.
Jonathan Downes (50) and his wife Corinna (53); the Director and Administrator of the UK-based Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ], the world's largest mystery animal research organisation; fly to Texas on Friday. Together with their friends and colleagues Richie and Naomi West, who very generously financed the expedition, they will spend two weeks continuing the research into the Texas blue dogs, first carried out by Jonathan Downes in November 2004.
When the first acounts of blue, hairless dogs from Texas first began to filter into the cryptozoological community back in the summer of 2004 they were widely dismissed by cryptopundits as being of mangy coyotes. The CFZ was never happy with that explanation, basically because according to the testimony of every veterinary expert whom we consulted, if an animal was as riddled with mange (or any similar condition) as to be completely hairless, then it would be so ill as to hardly be able to walk, let alone run around, attack chickens or sire progeny (which - by all accounts - are as hairless and blue as the adults).
Some pundits, especially in Texas have described them as "chupacabras". This Spanish term meaning - literally - 'goat sucker', was coined on the island of Puerto Rico (subject of two expeditions by the CFZ) in the mid-1990s to describe a hairless, semi-bipedal animal with spikes down its back, suspected of being responsible for the vampiric deaths of domestic livestock across the island. "The Texas blue dogs have nothing to do with the chupacabras" says Jonathan, who has written two books about the Puerto Rican enigma. "They are clearly members of the dog family, but they are something that deserves a proper scientific investigation."
Jonathan visited Texas in November 2004, and has been continuing the investigation at long distance ever since. He believes that the explanation for these creatures is a complicated one, but one which will very much repay the effort the CFZ will be putting in. There is a dedicated blog for this expedition, which will be updated daily. It can be found at http://texasbluedogs.blogspot.com/
Watch this space!
Jon and Corinna are available for interview. Pictures are available.
For further details (UK) telephone Graham or Oll on 01237 431413 or (US) Naomi on 254-238-1909
NOTES TO EDITORS
* The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is the world’s largest mystery animal research organisation. It was founded in 1992 by British author Jonathan Downes and is a non-profit making (not for profit) organisation registered with H. M. Stamp Office.
* The Texas expedition is being filmed by London-based Minnow films for a major BBC2 feature documentary on the CFZ
* Life-president of the CFZ is Colonel John Blashford-Snell OBE, best known for his ground-breaking youth work organising the ‘Operation Drake’ and ‘Operation Raleigh’ expeditions in the 1970s and 1980s.
* CFZ Director Jonathan Downes is the author and/or editor of over 20 books. His latest book is Island of Paradise, his first hand account of two expeditions to the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico in search of the grotesque vampiric chupacabra.
* The CFZ have carried out expeditions across the world including Russia, Ireland, Sumatra, Mongolia, Guyana, Gambia, Texas, Mexico, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Illinois, Loch Ness, and Loch Morar.
* CFZ Press are the world’s largest publishers of books on mystery animals. They also publish Animals & Men, the world’s only cryptozoology magazine, and The Amateur Naturalist, Britain’s only dedicated magazine on the subject.
* The CFZ produce their own full-length documentaries through their media division called CFZtv www.cfztv.org. One of their films Lair of the Red Worm which was released in early 2007 and documents their 2005 Mongolia expedition has now been seen by nearly 82,000 people.
* The CFZ is based in Jon Downes’ old family home in rural North Devon which he shares with his wife Corinna (53). It is also home to various members of the CFZ’s permanent directorate and a collection of exotic animals.
* Jonathan Downes presents a monthly web TV show called On the Track (available through YouTube) which covers cryptozoology and work of the CFZ.
* The CFZ are opening a Visitor Centre and Museum in Woolsery, North Devon.
* Following their successful partnership with Capcom http://www.capcom.com/ on the 2007 Guyana expedition, the CFZ are looking for more commercial sponsors.