Oct 22, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Strange Creatures Around the World - and How Governments Investigate Them

Over the last couple of days I've written articles on how the United States Government handles the likes of Bigfoot and so on. Today, however, I'm going to share with you the kinds of strange creatures that other countries have had to handle. We'll begin with the United Kingdom. Now, let's see what the U.K. government has said about the Nessies.  We'll begin with the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Center: JARIC, as it was known in the 1960s, when official interest in Nessie took off. As the National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP) state: "Based at RAF Brampton, Cambridgeshire, from 1957 to 2013, JARIC was the UK's national strategic imagery intelligence provider. In the immediate postwar years one of its major tasks was the plotting and analysis of captured German Air Force reconnaissance photography. What had not been destroyed, or captured by the Soviets, was discovered in several locations by the Allies and shipped back to the UK. The joint UK/US work on this imagery provided unique intelligence on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe during the early Cold War years before the advent of satellite imagery."

(Nick Redfern) Who would think the U.K. Government would take an interest in Nessie?

David James was a U.K. politician who had a deep interest in the Loch Ness Monsters and the controversy surrounding them. Along with conservationist Sir Peter Scott and several others, James  -in 1962 - established the Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau. Not only that, James had significant ties to the U.K. military: he fought for his country in the Second World War. James later moved into the world of politics. It was as a result of his connections with the military and government that James came up with a bright idea: why not see if JARIC would be willing to examine and analyze photos and footage that purported to show Loch Ness Monsters? What began as just an idea went ahead. Certainly, the most famous connection between the Nessies and JARIC revolved around the 1962 sighting (and filming) of an alleged Loch Ness Monster by Nessie-seeker Tim Dinsdale.

It was the early morning of Saturday, April 23, 1960 and Tim Dinsdale was several days into an expedition at the loch when something remarkable and – for Dinsdale – life-changing occurred. It was the final day of Dinsdale’s trip, so it was a case of now or never. Very fortuitously, for the man himself, it turned out to be now. Dinsdale succeeded in capturing - well, something - with his cine-camera. A small boat? A real Nessie? It very much depends on who you ask. As for JARIC's conclusions, they said that their analysis showed that at one point the object/creature "appears to submerge" and that: "One can presumably rule out the idea that it is any sort of submarine vessel for various reasons which leaves the conclusion that it is probably an animate object." Moving on to the late 1970s, the then-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, got involved in the controversy of Nessie - in a way, at least.

As Tabitca Cope (the author of the novel, Dark Ness) stated on February 23, 2010: "The Sunday Times (Scotland) reports that the U.K. Government under Margaret Thatcher seriously considered an official hunt for the Loch Ness Monster. Newly declassified files from the 1970s reveal that the Government had considered importing bottle-nosed dolphins to search Loch Ness for evidence of Nessie. The plan was being considered by the Department of the Environment. The Department apparently believed that there were no legal obstacles to such a hunt however they were concerned about the political implications and possible opposition from animal rights campaigners.The reasons for the proposed hunt - which appears to have been abandoned - included boosting tourism." So, yes, government and military agencies have got involved in the Nessie controversy. But, sadly, there are no hidden, military bunkers where fantastic photos and films of Nessie are firmly locked away!

Now, let's take a trip to Australia and to Tasmania, an island state of Australia. And, let's see what people in government say of the Thylacine, a creature that is supposed to be extinct, but may very well not be: “Australia is home to some of the world's most unusual and mysterious wildlife. Our native animals, such as the platypus, the koala and the kangaroo, have been a source of wonder and surprise to people the world over. But perhaps our most mysterious animal is the thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger. There are many reasons why people are fascinated by this animal. Perhaps it is its name and the romantic notion of Australia having its own ‘tiger.’ Perhaps it is its sad history since European settlement, or the fact that there are many people who claim they have seen a Tasmanian Tiger and believe it may not be extinct after all.” And as Australian government officials also state: “Although commonly called the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf, the thylacine has more in common with its marsupial cousin the Tasmanian Devil. With a head like a wolf, striped body like a tiger and backward facing pouch like a wombat, the thylacine was as unbelievable as the platypus which had caused disbelief and uproar in Europe when it was first described.

(Richard Freeman) Many thanks to my good friend Richard Freeman for the use of his book, In Search of Real Monsters that shows a Thylacine on the cover

The government add: “The thylacine looked like a long dog with stripes, a heavy stiff tail and a big head. A fully grown thylacine could measure 180cm from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail, stand 58cm high at the shoulder and weigh about 30 kilograms. It had short, soft fur that was brown except for the thick black stripes which extended from the base of the tail to the shoulders.” It’s time for a final examination of the Australian Government’s thylacine files: “The thylacine was said to have an awkward way of moving, trotting stiffly and not moving particularly quickly. They walked on their toes like a dog but could also move in a more unusual way - a bipedal hop. The animal would stand upright with its front legs in the air, resting its hind legs on the ground and using its tail as a support, exactly the way a kangaroo does. Thylacines had been known to hop for short distances in this position.” As all of this tells us is that the governments of Tasmania and Australia are quite open to the Thylacines still being alive, but quite rightly they want proof.

It's time now to see what we know about the Yeti/Abominable Snowman and its its connection to government. While there is no hard evidence to suggest that government agencies have an interest in the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas today, that was most certainly not the case decades ago - and particularly so in the 1950s. Indeed, way back then there was more than a bit of interest in the mysterious and monstrous phenomenon and for more than one reason - as you will now see. In 1957, the New York Times ran an article with a very eye-catching title: "Soviet Sees Espionage in U.S. Snowman Hunt." In essence, the Russians suspected that certain treks to the heart of the Himalayas were actually ingenious covers for espionage-based activities. One of those who the Russians believed was using his Yeti hunts to do a bit of secret spying for the U.S. Government was Tom Slick. He was a self-made millionaire from San Antonio, Texas who was as tied to the world of Cryptozoology as he was - as some believed - to the domain of espionage. The New York Times added that, as far as the Russians were concerned, the "engineering" of the escalating problems between China and Nepal were being stimulated by "the missing link in the story of the mysterious scientific expeditions sent to the Himalayas in quest of the 'snowman.'"

But, there was another aspect to the matter of government secrecy and the legendary Yeti. We know this thanks to the provisions of the United States' Freedom of Information Act. For the evidence, we have to go back to 1959. Specifically to November 30, 1959. The location: the U.S. Embassy at Kathmandu. It was within the heart of the embassy that an undeniably weird document was carefully and quietly drafted. Its title was "Regulations Covering Mountain Climbing Expeditions In Nepal - Relating To Yeti." The document was put together by a man named Ernest H. Fisk. His official position, at the time, was that of Counselor of the Embassy. Certain criteria for seeking and hunting the Yeti had been laid down. The document notes that anyone who wanted to set off in search of the Abominable Snowman had to obtain a legal permit from the government officials in Nepal. The files reveal that Fisk considered it perfectly okay to photograph a Yeti. But, shooting at, and even killing, one of the creatures was a definitive no-no. Unless, that was, "in an emergency arising out of self defense." And there was more to come.

The U.S. Department of State made it very clear that any photos taken, and which appeared to show one or more Yetis, had to be handed over to the Nepalese government at the very earliest opportunity. In addition, legislation was laid down which asserted that any and all data that might conceivably throw light on "the actual existence of the creature" was not to be given to "the press or reporters for publicity without the permission of the Government of Nepal." Fisk came straight to point: "These regulations are to be observed." The archivist who came across this strange but intriguing batch of documentation was one Mark Murphy. He said of the material, located at the National Archives: "I thought I was seeing things. These documents show that finding the Yeti was a big deal in the 1950s. It goes to show the government was taking this seriously." Yes, the government was taking things seriously. While none of these extraordinary revelations vindicate the claims and rumors that, today, the U.S. military is secretly investigating the Bigfoot phenomenon in the United States, it certainly makes one wonder just how deep the connections between the government and the field of Cryptozoology really go.

(Nick Redfern) Inside the U.S. National Archives: that's where the "Yeti File" can be found and read

And, now, there is a grisly operation of the CIA that created a monster. In this particular case, the grisly program involved CIA scientists implanting into the bodies of cats (a) transmitters and (b) microphones. Then, the cats would – in theory, at least – be directed to certain sites that the CIA wanted to penetrate. In the most notorious case, the target was nothing less than the Russian Embassy on Wisconsin Avenue, Washington, D.C., USA The cats were trained to roam around the grounds of the Embassy, using their built-in microphones to pick up any and all conversations that might be made by Russian personnel, such as agents of the KGB. While this might all sound totally unlikely – in terms of making the program work successfully – the fact is that the project had nothing less a budget of no less than $10 Million. Of course, the whole thing was bound to fail. It certainly did. And in a very tragic, fashion. The CIA’s Office of Science and Technology (OSI) thought they had everything running perfect when they decided to make one particular run. The cat was taken into the back of a van that had been converted into a mobile headquarters, along with a team of three people. While the operation was top secret in nature, snippets of what happened next were leaked out by a man named Victor Marchetti, a long-time employee of the CIA and the author of a controversial 1974 book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence. Such was the controversial nature of the experiment, it was obvious it would one day come tumbling out.

In his book, Marchetti said of the Acoustic Kitty experiment: "They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally, they're ready. They took it out to a park bench and said ‘Listen to those two guys. Don't listen to anything else – not the birds, no cat or dog – just those two guys!’ They put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead!" In a very bureaucratic fashion, the conclusions of the CIA went as follows: "The environmental and security factors in using this technique in a real foreign situation force us to conclude that for our purposes, it would not be practical." I’ll say. Thankfully, the project was closed down.As we can see, a number of governments have taken note of strange creatures - and even created them horribly in someway.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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