Bigfoot and Nessie and the Yeti, oh my! Although most scoff at the thought of these creatures' existence, there are those who believe that there are mysterious animals inhabiting our world. And, just as every dog has its day, these believers are finally having their week.
Oct. 24 to 30 has been declared the first national Creature Appreciation Week (CAW), sponsored by trading card game company Duel Masters.
During CAW, a symposium on cryptozoology, or the study of hidden creatures, will be held at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine from Oct. 28 to 30, featuring keynote speaker and world-famous cryptozoologist Loren Coleman.
Considered the foremost expert in the field, Coleman has written 17 books on the subject, including Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature and Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America.
One need not travel to Maine, however, to find those who believe in mysterious creatures. Some can even be found here at Emerson.
"I believe in the Loch Ness Monster," said sophomore print journalism major Kristine Catalogna. "My family is from Scotland, and I have had family members who said they've seen it."
The goal of CAW, according the event's Web site (www.caw2005.com), is to dispel these beings' bad reputations, support their existence and "acknowledge the good that creatures do."
The Web site continues, "Most creatures are simply trying to lead a normal life like all of us."
Creature-friendly activities suggested by the creators of CAW include writing to a local representative or congressman to ask for equal rights for cryptids like Bigfoot, or hosting a movie marathon featuring misunderstood-monster flicks such as Jaws, The Blob and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
A $1 million bounty for the live capture of Bigfoot, Nessie of Loch Ness or the Abominable Snowman, alias Yeti, was offered by Coleman and Duel Masters last week on the Internet, but the card company has since pulled out of the deal.
Instead, they chose to sponsor a contest for the best photo perpetuating the myth of any of these creatures.
"Duel Masters feared that untrained cryptozoologists would engage in unsafe behaviors in their attempt to capture these legendary creatures," said Toby Nelson, corporate communications manager of Duel Masters' parent company. Also, he worried "that innocent creatures may be harmed in the process."
Wizards of the Coast, Inc. is also the parent company to "The Gathering" and "Dungeons and Dragons."
The official launch of the Duel Masters' 2005 Photo Contest on Oct. 24 marked the beginning of CAW.
There is also a great nearby wild creature attraction to check out in Portland, Maine. On a day trip up the coast, you can visit the International Cryptozoology Museum Coleman founded in 2003.
At the museum, you'll find toys and models of cryptids, the creatures of cryptozoology from around the world, including an eight-foot-tall Bigfoot. It also houses evidence for the existence of Bigfoot, the Yeti and other mythological beasts as well.
Coleman's creation also features proven fakes such as jackalopes (jackrabbits with glued-on antlers) and the Feejee Mermaid (an orangutan carcass combined with a salmon tail, a P.T. Barnum hoax). Also on display are props from cryptid-related movies such as The Mothman Prophecies.
Whether you believe these creatures exist or not, this weeklong celebration of these myths and the imaginations behind them provides a great excuse to start your Halloween celebrations early.