Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) is an organisation dedicated to cryptozoology, and allied disciplines. It is a non-profit organisation registered with the British Government, and its Hon. Life President is the British explorer John Blashford-Snell.12
The Centre was founded in 1992 by Jonathan Downes. In 2005, Downes inherited his family home in rural North Devon, and the organisation relocated there; they are in the process of building a visitor's centre complete with a museum, laboratory and library.34
The publishing arm of the CFZ is a company called CFZ Press, which claims to be the largest publisher of books on cryptozoology in the world. Since 2000, the CFZ has promoted an annual conference called The Weird Weekend.56 In 2006, after six years in Exeter, the conference was moved to rural North Devon as well. In 2006 the CFZ announced plans for a web-based TV station called CFZtv.
The primary focus of the CFZ involves unknown animals, or cryptozoology, but the CFZ also examines unusual and aberrant animal behavior, animal mutilations (on which subject they have worked closely with several British police forces), animal colour variants, teratology, animal folklore, and such classic Fortean staples as creature falls (fafrotskies), and vampire/werewolf reports. This is why the organisation refers to itself as the "Centre for Fortean Zoology", rather than any moniker including the word "Cryptozoology".78
The CFZ studies the various aspects of cryptozoology and allied disciplines, and have introduced a new three tier concept to aid classification and analysis of unknown animals.
Cryptozoology is the study of hidden or unknown animals belonging to species wholly or partly unknown to science, often collectively called 'cryptids'.
Many researchers are interested in a related category of mystery animals often dubbed pseudo-cryptids, which are not strictly part of cryptozoology. This is one reason why Downes formulated the portmanteau discipline of Fortean zoology.
These creatures are animals which are out of place, i.e., known species which by accident and/or artificial introduction living where would not normally expect to find them—one good example being alien big cats said to live in British moorlands.
However, not all out-of-place animals occur because of human intervention. Some are the result of accidental migration due to inclement weather or unusual marine currents. They are often known animal species that seem to be dramatically increasing their geographical range.
Other pseudo-cryptids include outsized or oddly coloured individual or groups of animals of a known species. A good example of a pseudo-cryptid would be the golden frogs of the United Kingdom which are the subject of a current CFZ research project.
The third cryptozoological category consists of zooform phenomena. These are not animals at all, but entities or apparitions which adopt or seem to have (quasi)animal form. This is where we (at least to some extent) enter science fiction territory. In many ways, these elusive and contentious entities have plagued cryptozoology since its inception, and tend to be dismissed by mainstream science as thoroughly unworthy of consideration. Zooform phenomena seem to be a strange blend of paranormal manifestation and mythology.
However, Jonathan Downes, who first coined the term in 1990, maintains that many zooform phenomena result from complex psychosocial and sociological phenomena, and suggests that to classify all such phenomena as "paranormal" in origin is counterproductive. A good example of a zooform phenomenon would be the Owlman of Mawnan.
CFZ members have carried out expeditions to:
- Sumatra (2003 and 2004)910
- Mongolia (2005)11
- Puerto Rico (1998 and 2004)12
- Mexico (1998)
- Thailand (2000)13
- Florida (1998)
- Nevada (1999 and 2003)
- Texas (2003 and 2004)14
- Illinois (2004)
- The Gambia (2006)15
- Guyana (2007)1617
- Russia (2008)
UK Based Investigations
- Martin Mere (2002)18
- Cannock (2003)19
- Bolam Lake (2004)2021
- Loch Morar (2005)
- Lake District (2006)2223
- Llangorse Lake (2006)24
Additionally, the Centre annually publishes the CFZ Yearbook; there have been nine issues thus far.