The Skunk Ape is said to live in the more than 1.5 million acres of largely impenetrable forests and swamps of the southern United States, stretching from the tip of the Florida Everglades through Louisiana’s swamps and bayous and into the Big Thicket Preserve in Eastern Texas.
Witnesses have described a tall–some six to seven feet–and stocky figure, seemingly half-man, half-ape, covered with long, stringy hair and reddish in color. Most eyewitness reports include a strong odor, likened to rotting eggs, skunk and cow manure–hence the nickname “Skunk Ape.”
Before the white man’s arrival in the region, the Miccosukee and Seminole Native American tribes of southern Florida spoke of a creature they called ssti capcaki, or “tall hairy man.” In 1850, an Arkansas newspaper headline first made reference to the Skunk Ape, citing farmers’ reports of “a wild man covered in hair.” In his report of a sighting in 1977 in the Florida Keys, Charlie Stoeckman evocatively described the beast’s unique smell.
Descriptions of the Skunk Ape reveal some similar elements to primates such as gorillas, chimpanzees and especially orangutans. The search has been compared to that for Sasquatch (a.k.a. “Bigfoot) in the Pacific Northwest and Canada–also a tall, hairy bipedal–but the Skunk Ape is described as smaller, hairier and lighter in color than Bigfoot.
The Skunk Ape walks upright and is well adapted for life in the low-lying swamps of the region. Like primates including gorillas, chimpanzees and gibbons, it seems docile but ready and willing to defend its territory.
In August 2000, a driver near Trout, Louisiana reported hitting a large man in a fur coat with his vehicle. The impact caused a great deal of damage to the car, and police couldn’t find the victim. Another sighting was reported in 2006 in the region of Cotton Island Swamp, some 20 miles away from Trout.