In 2000, two photographs said to be of the Skunk Ape were taken by an anonymous woman and mailed to the Sarasota County, Florida, Sheriff's Department. The photographs were accompanied by a letter from the woman in which she claims to have photographed an ape in her backyard. The woman wrote that on three different nights an ape had entered her backyard to take apples left on her back porch. She was convinced the ape was an escaped orangutan. The pictures have become known to Bigfoot enthusiasts as the "skunk ape photos."
Loren Coleman is the primary researcher on the photographs, having helped track down the two photographs to an "Eckerd photo lab at the intersection of Fruitville and Tuttle Roads" in Sarasota, Florida.
NORTH AMERICAN APE of southern and central
Etymology: From the animal’s intensely unpleasant
Variant names: Abominable Florida apeman,
Abominable swamp slob, Bardin booger, Sandman,
Physical description: Height, 5–9 feet. Hair
color, red to dark brown or black.
Behavior: Calls are a wide range of hoots,
whistles, and screams. Aggressive toward dogs
and humans. Seemingly vegetarian but may kill
livestock or small game.
Tracks: Usually five-toed prints, 8–19 inches
long. Three- or four-toed prints reported occasionally,
as are knuckle prints, sometimes with
opposed thumb. Toes dig in deeply.
Distribution: Southern Florida, from the Keys
north to the Brooksville area in the west and to
Palm Beach in the east.
Significant sightings: Trappers and fishermen
have told stories of Skunk apes since the 1920s,
but reports became frequent after the 1970s when
real estate developers invaded the Everglades.
H. C. Osborn (or Osbun) was camped out
near an Indian mound in the Fort Lauderdale
area in February 1971 when he looked out of his
tent and saw an 8-foot, 700-pound, apelike
creature standing a few feet away. It was covered
in light-brown hair and smelled awful. The next
morning, he found five-toed prints, 17.5 inches
long and 11 inches wide.
On June 7, 1975, twelve-year-old Ronnie
Steves woke up in his home east of Venice,
Florida, when he heard a disturbance in the
duck pen outside. Investigating, he saw a 6-
foot, dark, apelike animal that ran away. Investigators
found 8-inch tracks with a discernible
Everglades Day Safari tour guide Dow
Roland saw a reddish-brown Skunk ape about
150 feet away from Turner River Road when he
had a half dozen tourists in his Ford van on July
18, 1997. The tourists got two glimpses of it as
it appeared briefly from the woods. However,
Roland and many of the adults thought it might
have been a man in an ape suit.
Ochopee fire control chief Vince Doerr
snapped a vague picture of a Skunk ape on July
On September 8, 1998, David Shealy took
twenty-seven photos of a Skunk ape after an 8-
month vigil sitting in a tree in his backyard in
Collier County, Florida, though only one was
released to the public. Author and naturalist
James McMullen examined Shealy’s photos,
noting that the creature closely resembled the 7-
foot, 500-pound hairy primate that he had encountered
in August 1997 when stalking panthers
in the Everglades. In July 2000, Shealy
videotaped an ape lurching through a field near
In September or October 2000, a woman
took two photos of an orangutan-like creature
seen in a kneeling position in her backyard, near
the Myakka River, Florida. She estimated it was
7 feet tall. It had a strong odor and was making
“woomp” noises. The photos were sent anonymously
to the Sarasota County sheriff’s office,
since the woman did not want anybody on her
(1) Hoaxers in ape suits.
(2) A Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) escaped
from a zoo, though no escapes were
(3) An unknown ape, as reported in other
wetlands of the southern and eastern United
(4) A HAIRY BIPED.