The Daves would like to welcome fellow blogger AJ Dunbar from the bigfoot website BigfootBase.com! You can check out his site by going HERE!
“Enclosed please find some pictures I took. My husband thinks it is an orangutan. Is someone missing an orangutan?”
In December 2000, an anonymous letter and two photographs of a large ape-like creature arrived at the Sarasota County Sherriff’s office. In the letter, an elderly woman wrote of a persistent, late-night visitor who stole apples from her back porch. On the third night of visits in early October of that year, she collected her camera and approached the trespasser, snapping two infamous pictures in the world of cryptozoology.
So, imagine you’re an elderly Florida woman reading a book in the warm, safety of your own home late one October evening. Your husband is passed out upstairs and you drank coffee after dinner so you’re too hopped up on caffeine to go join him. Not to mention that you feel a little uneasy since you have been hearing odd ‘woomping’ noises coming from your country backyard the last few nights. You assume it’s just raccoons aimlessly moving things around and treating your yard like a gymnastics mat, but what if it’s something else? What if there’s a man back there? Could he be the one that’s been taking apples from the bowl on the back deck?
You start to get a little ticked off, because your granddaughter brought you those apples. And dog-gonnit, you love you granddaughter. You feel the caffeine surge through your veins and provide you vengeful, confident old lady strength. “I’m going to go take a picture of that apple-stealing bastard!” you proclaim, and slam your romantic novel to the beige nylon carpet. You grab your Kodak and stomp outside.
You look around into the darkness, but see no strange men or bored raccoons. There is a terrible smell in the air, though. And the ‘woomping’ noise persists through the cold night. You see some sort of shape near the back hedges and approach it. This shadow seems to be the source of the deep woooooomp. Curiosity grabs your shaky hands, and positions the camera.
In a situation 100% plucked from a horror movie, this brave Floridian encountered a very odd animal that night. Can you imagine sneaking up on this thing in pitch darkness? What a brave soul. She provided very compelling details about this “Orangutan” that fit descriptions of the mythical southern Bigfoot, known as the “Skunk Ape”:
“I judge it as being about six and a half to seven feet tall in a kneeling position. 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. It sounded much further away then it turned out to be. If I had known it was as close to the hedge row as it was I wouldn’t have walked up as close as I did. I’m a senior citizen and if this animal had come out of the hedge roll after me there wasn’t a thing I could have done about it. I was about ten foot away from it when it stood up.“
Is it Real?
The validity of the Myakka Skunk Ape photos, like every other piece of Bigfoot evidence, is veiled in doubt. It is always difficult to pick apart the details and truly prove a hoax took place. These photos have never conclusively been proven fake, and I wonder if it really was. The woman’s letter is very detailed and expresses true fear at the creature’s threatening size and genuine concern considering the possibility that this thing “could cause a serious accident if someone hit it” on nearby I-75. She further explains:
“I once hit a deer that wasn’t even a quarter of the size of this animal and totaled my car. At the very least this animal belongs in a place like Bush Gardens where it can be looked after properly. Why haven’t people been told that an animal this size is loose? How are people to know how dangerous this could be? If I had known an animal bike this was loose I wouldn’t have approached it. I saw on the news that monkeys that get loose can carry Hepatitis and are very dangerous. Please look after this situation. I don’t want my backyard to turn into someone else’s circus.”
Other than an urgent tone, she also never once wrote “Bigfoot” or “Skunk Ape”. Instead, she expresses irritation towards the police department for not telling anyone about the “orangutan.” Even though the photos were considered a prank, some within the department performed follow-up investigations. While the woman was never identified, reports surfaced of an “animal bothering neighborhoods in east Sarasota County” around that time. Additionally, no feral apes, lost pets, or fugitive orangutans were reported missing or recovered.
And even if it was an orangutan somehow, that’s a pretty gnarly looking ape.
Of course, there are no fossil records of apes in Florida. With only an anonymous letter and some very odd pictures, the tale of the Myakka Skunk Ape will likely never be completely solved. Just like the Sarasota police department, skeptics everywhere shoot down the authenticity of this interesting episode. Some “veteran Sasquatch investigators” concluded the Myakka Skunk Ape to be a “masked individual in a baggy-leg costume” and a primate specialist in Japan said that, similarly, the creature “expressed no body, arm, or leg definition that would lend itself to the great apes.” She also mentioned that the “costume” is familiar to them and comes in assorted colors, featuring “plastic teeth molded in the fashion of the great apes.”
Obviously, this southern-fried Squatch’ is truly controversial. But with miles and miles of uncharted, uninhabited swamp through the state, I wonder if these creatures have nestled into a perfect ecological niche. Sightings persist to this day. There are even stories from the Choctaw Indians about violent monsters that live deep in the swamp called Shampes.
Could these beings actually be real?
Where did this thing come from?
Sightings of a Skunk Ape are more frequent than you may expect. According to the BFRO, there have been at least 309 reported sightings of a Bigfoot like creature in the state of Florida. As of December 2016, the most recent sighting was October 2016.
Before anyone tries to dismantle the idea of a great ape thriving in the thickets of Florida, let’s consider something. The author of the letter lived near I-75, which places her somewhere in-between the interstate and the Myakka River State Park. The closest Myakka-named populace is “Myakka City”, several miles northeast of the park. What does this mean? It means that she likely didn’t live anywhere near Myakka City. It means that there’s a whole lot of open land past I-75 and that fateful back yard: 37,000 acres of state park. That’s a lot of swamp and cover where a population of intelligent, skittish creatures could live undetected.