A team of believers seeks to prove the creature's existence. Art by Earl Towery
WINTER HAVEN -- It's had more sightings than Elvis.
They call it Wookie in Louisiana, Yeti in Nepal, Yowie in Australia and Susquatch in Canada. In Florida, it's called Swamp Ape, Skunk Ape, Stink Ape or Stink Man. More plainly put, Bigfoot.
For one local man, finding the creature has become like searching for the Holy Grail, and he is teaming up with other believers the first week in November for a field-research class through Florida Keys Community College. He hopes to bring back proof of its existence.
"I know it's there. I know it on several levels," said Scott Marlowe, a founder of the Pangea Institute in Winter Haven and instructor of an online class in cryptozoology, the study of creatures that may or may not exist, through Florida Keys Community College.
"Of all the species on earth, man is presumed to be the only one that has one example of its genus -- the only genus that has only one species still alive. All other species have more than one."
Marlowe isn't the only one with faith that the creature exists.
Patricia Edwards of Lakeland has seen what she believes is the Swamp Ape in the Green Swamp. Although her sighting was in the fall of 2002, it was not until she read about another sighting that she decided to go public.
It began when she was going to visit a relative in an Ocala hospital. The morning was clear, and she was driving along Country Road 471, a long, straight stretch of road through the Green Swamp. She said she saw something less than a half block away.
"If I live to be a couple hundred years old, the story will not change," said Edwards, 69. "There was very little traffic and I see something that ran out in front of me. It looked like a giant sloth except I know they're slow moving -- this one moved fast and dove down into the edge of the road into a ditch area.''
"It started out running, galloping on fours like a dog, but when it dove I could see the arms come up. It was sizable, almost like a bear, but not a bear, not the way its arms moved."
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