ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Skunk Ape in Florida!

Updated on November 23, 2009

The Skunk Ape!

Skunk Ape
Skunk Ape
My Uncle David Shealy
My Uncle David Shealy
David Shealy
David Shealy
David Shealy
David Shealy

The Facts on This Stinky Creature!

 

Ochopee, Florida 

You may be surprised to learn that the most likely place to see an American bigfoot, outside of the Pacific Northwest, is in the Florida Everglades. The region around the tiny town of Ochopee is particularly favored by smelly, hairy bipeds, and it is here that the Shealy brothers -- Dave and Jack -- have opened the world's only Skunk Ape Research Headquarters.

Dave Shealy, the younger and more outspoken of the two, is Florida's self-appointed Skunk Ape expert. Slim, in his mid-forties, he wears dark, wraparound sunglasses, a hat with a band of alligator teeth, and no shoes.

"There's never been a documented case of anyone ever being physically attacked by a Skunk Ape," he says, reassuringly. "But also, there's a lot of people that go into the Everglades that never come out."

Dave has been studying the Skunk Ape "pretty much all my life" and describes it as six to seven feet tall and 350 to 450 pounds. He guesses that there are between seven and nine of the creatures around here, in a waterlogged and buggy wetland of buzzards, alligators, and towering sawgrass.

"Not everyone who sees a Skunk Ape reports it," says Dave. "They don't want people to poke fun at 'em, or to tell 'em they're crazy. That's not the exception; that's pretty much the rule." But reports do get through. Dave recalls that in 2003 two European women were in the Big Cypress Swamp, photographing plants, when they were surprised by "a huge male Skunk Ape" with an erection. "It was what I believe was the mating season," Dave explains. The women escaped unharmed.

Why do Skunk Apes smell so bad? According to brother Jack, they hide in the air pockets of underground alligator dens, and their bodies absorb a lot of stinky methane. Dave adds: "It's hot down here. And the Skunk Ape sweats. And it doesn't bathe."

Dave has seen a Skunk Ape three times in his life. He's taken photos and video of the animal, which are featured on a DVD sold at Skunk Ape Research Headquarters. The HQ also serves as the office for the Trail Lakes Campground, which is owned and operated by the Shealys. Visitors can buy Skunk Ape t-shirts, camouflage caps, and bumper stickers, which no longer carry the Headquarters phone number. "We'd get calls from all over the country," says Rick, who manages a small zoo at the Campground and who doesn't believe in Skunk Apes. "People would see it and -- I guess -- be bored and need something to do."

A small display in Headquarters showcases newspaper clippings of Dave's interviews, prints of some of his photos, and a prized plaster cast of a Skunk Ape footprint. The highlights of the year at the Campground are the Everglades Skunk Ape Festival held every June -- with a Miss Skunk Ape contest -- and "Skunktoberfest" in October.

"A lot of people thought the Skunk Ape was a hoax," Dave says. "They said it cheapened my business. Made me look like some kind of flim-flam man, out to take advantage of tourists. That's not my intention at all."

If the Skunk Ape is to ever attract bigfoot-size attention, it probably needs Dave -- a natural salesman and promoter. But Dave may be as endangered as his fetid favorite. He is locked in a war with the federal government, which owns the Big Cypress National Preserve next door, and which wants to kick out the Shealys and their campground. That would probably silence all talk of the Skunk Ape. "Here I am," Dave says, his voice rising in frustration. "I'm an American. I should be a shining example of how great this country is. But instead the Parks Service has built all of these campgrounds around me, their employees direct customers away from me, one of their employees has attempted to buy illegal weapons in Miami to kill me. And they won't even fire the guy."

Dave tells us that he is now forbidden from taking visitors to Skunk Ape sites.

"It's illegal for me to take anybody anywhere," he says. "A person who just pulls in off the road and says, 'I wanna see a Skunk Ape'? I generally just point those people in the directions where their chances might be best for seeing one."

"It's a helluva way to live. And the worst part of it is, I don't get any respect."

Dave's heart may be with the Skunk Ape, but his body must be at the Campground. He must put aside his advocacy and field work to be a cop, janitor, lawn mower, maintenance worker, and bookkeeper. He must make certain that his stock of DVDs and t-shirts doesn't run out. "I don't want to get into any big conspiracy theories," he tells us, sounding like a man anxious to avoid any more battles. But then he adds, cryptically, "There's a lot going on down here."

"You've heard of the Everglades Restoration Program?" he asks. "And the cost: what is it? $300 billion? Why would the government invest that kind of money into an area that's nothing but a swamp? They are making huge tracts of the Everglades off-limits. The first thing that I think of when I hear "off-limits" is that there's something going on out there.

"There are things," he says, "here in the Everglades, I can assure you -- and I would not lie to you -- that are secret. And that's what makes this the greatest country in the world. It can keep secrets."

The Skunk Ape, thankfully, is a matter of public record. People have been seeing it for hundreds of years, and they aren't likely to forget about it any time soon -- at least, as long as there's a Skunk Ape Research Headquarters, and as long as it's called a Skunk Ape. "It's the worst of insults, as far as a name goes," Dave concedes. "But it's catchy."

The Video With My Uncle!

Leave Comments and Fan Mail

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)