The Himalayans have the Yeti, Native Americans have the Sasquatch, and Floridians have skunk ape.
“They’re just so elusive and so rare,” said Dave Shealy, a skunk ape researcher.
Skunk ape is a creature described to be similar to bigfoot, named after its smell and appearance. It’s said to be a man-sized ape.
The skunk ape has been reported on since the early 1800s, with a family in Key Largo going to the sheriff’s office in the 1970s, claiming the skunk ape was stalking them. A bill was even penned in 1977, calling for the protection of skunk ape. It did not pass. Skunk ape reports have been issued in the Miami suburbs throughout the years.
“I was ten-years-old. I saw a skunk ape right out behind us here,” said Sealy.
“He run out across the road and we stopped and you could see him easing on through the woods real slow,” said Tourist George McDonald.
How close does the skunk ape legend come to Palm Beach County? The Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Protection has been called to look into the creature before.
“Anywhere you have water conservation areas and levees is a possibility for seeing a skunk ape. They’ll get on a levee and walk it for miles,” said Sealy.
Benji Studt, the department’s public outreach supervisor, says the department had a man come to them claiming he saw skunk ape footprints in one of the county’s natural areas. When the department investigated, they found a barefoot runner’s footprints.
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary was also contacted about any reported skunk ape sightings.
Amy Kight, the director of the sanctuary, says they have not had a slunk ape as a patient but would treat it if one came in.
Local radio host Jason Pennington of 97.9 is a huge fan of Bigfoot and the paranormal. He has had locals contact him about skunk ape sightings but has not seen the beast for himself but does plan to go looking.
The skunk ape is said to lurk in Florida swamps and forests.
“There’s never been a recorded attack on a person by a skunk ape by anyone here in south Florida. However, over the years, there’s been plenty of people who disappeared into the Everglades. They go into the Everglades and they never come back,” said Sealy.
For true believers, there’s the Skunkape Headquarters in Ochopee, Florida. The headquarters is run by Dave Shealy, a man whose family is in the business of tracking and researching the skunk ape. The Shealys claim to have videos and pictures of the creature. Headquarters has skunk ape tours, merchandise, and even a campground.