Is there ‘wood ape?’ The truth is out there

By Norman Knight

Actor Rob Lowe says he just is thankful to be alive. The former Brat Pack member and “West Wing” TV show presidential advisor revealed in an article that he was camping with his two sons in the Ozark Mountains when he was confronted by … something. Lowe believes it was the legendary “Wood Ape” who stood over him as he lay on the ground frozen in terror.

Now, I try to keep an open mind, and I am willing to entertain the possibility of as yet undiscovered creatures, but I admit that a bit of skepticism crept in as I continued reading the article. Apparently the actor is busy working on “The Lowe Files,” a “docuseries” in which he and his sons travel the country searching for mysterious and elusive phenomenon. Is it possible Lowe is going public with this story in an attempt to lure in elusive viewers for his show?

In Arkansas a “wood ape” is how the locals refer to a type of creature others might call “Bigfoot.” Cryptozoologists are people who spend time and effort tracking down Bigfoot, The Abominable Snowman, The Loch Ness Monster and other as yet un-verifiable creatures. Loren Colman is so dedicated to finding the truth about these crypto-creatures he established the world’s only museum, the Cryptozoological Museum in Portland, Maine, dedicated to the study of unseen (“crypto”) animals. Cryptozoologists tell us Bigfoot is known by many names around the U.S.

In the Pacific Northwest the creature is known by the name “Sasquatch.” Ohioans tell tales of the mysterious “Grassman” lurking around farms and fields. New Jersey residents relate the legend of the “Jersey Devil” who has roamed the Pine Barrens area of the state since 1735. In Missouri sightings of the Missouri Monster have been reported up and down the forested regions of the Mississippi.

Residents of the Show-Me state have shortened his name to“Momo.” (Not be confused with the person rumored to inhabit the New York governor’s office known as “Cuomo.”) As cryptozoologist Coleman says almost affectionately of Bigfoot, “He is America’s monster, you know.”

In Indiana, at least here in Johnson County, we have elusive, crypto-creatures, too. Rumor has it there is a grainy black and white film of something wearing what appears to be a Jimmy Carter button loping slowly along the tree line across a darkened Greenwood city park. The county residents call the creature an “Elected Democrat.”

The Cryptozoological Museum has as its logo a fish, a coelacanth, that was known only through fossils and was believed to be extinct until 1938 when one was caught off the coast of South Africa. Museum curators cite this as one example of evidence that crypto creatures might really exist. After all, they argue, the giant squid, the kangaroo, the platypus and the Giant Panda all at one time were thought to be figments of someone’s imagination. It’s sort of like doubting that the Chicago Cubs would someday win the World Series. Then they did.

Lyle Blackburn is a cryptozoologist as well as author of The Beast of Boggy Creek and The Lizard Man and producer of the film “The Boggy Creek Monster,” all works exploring the evidence for crypto-creatures.

He says whether you believe in Bigfoot or don’t is not the point.

“It’s not a matter of faith,” he insists, “It’s a matter of believing there is some mystery left in the world … even in your own backyard.”

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.