Skunk Ape: A History of Florida’s Bigfoot

This post may contain affiliate links.
Skunk Ape in the woods

You’ve probably heard of Bigfoot, the ape-like creature who lives in dense forests of North America, and the Yeti, a similar hairy biped who lives in the Himalayas of Asia. But have you heard of the Skunk Ape? This creature calls Florida its home. 

Let’s look closer at the folklore surrounding this Florida Bigfoot legend!

What Is the Skunk Ape?

The Skunk Ape is very similar to Bigfoot in appearance. But it’s largely unknown outside the Everglades. Residents and tourists claim a large, ape-like bipedal creature lives in these wetlands. 

According to legend, the Skunk Ape is more than 6.5 feet tall and weighs roughly 450 pounds. It’s covered in brown or red hair and smells foul, like a skunk; hence, the name Skunk Ape.

When Was the Earliest Skunk Ape Sighting?

The legend of the Skunk Ape goes back as far as the early settlers. In 1818, local newspapers in Florida reported a man-sized monkey in what is now Apalachicola. Even the Seminole and Miccosukee cultures had their own stories about a hairy giant with a foul odor.

In the 1900s, additional sightings were reported. One such sighting was in 1929 when someone watched a large hairy figure walk up to Sugarloaf Key’s Bat Tower and started shaking it. The bats in the tower flew out and were never seen again.

Years later, in 1942, a man driving down a road in Suwanee County reported that a large ape-like creature grabbed his vehicle and beat on the door before letting go about a half-mile later.

More anecdotes were reported over the decades of it invading homes or killing livestock. Other eyewitnesses claimed to have seen the creature hiding in the Everglades and Big Cypress National Preserve.

When Was the Most Recent Skunk Ape Sighting?

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization keeps track of all of the sightings of the Skunk Ape.

In March 2023, the most recent report stated, “Residents report possible bigfoot sounds at night 25 miles north of Pensacola.”

In December 2022, the website reported, “Possible howls 20 miles SE of Tampa, coming from Chito Nature Preserve.”

Has the Skunk Ape Been Caught on Camera?

In 2000, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office received two photos of the cryptid taken by a woman who claimed the creature was stealing apples from her deck. The family heard grunting and banging outside and smelled a rotten odor. 

When they went to the back deck, they thought it was an escaped orangutan. However, after seeing the photos online and circulating in the community, many Floridians believed this was indeed the Skunk Ape.

What Is the Skunk Ape Headquarters?

Dave Shealy owns the Skunk Ape Headquarters in the Everglades and dedicates his time to proving Florida’s Bigfoot is real. He spotted the bigfoot-like creature when he was just 10 years old. 

Since then, Shealy has become an expert on the matter. He has written a field guide, appeared on television, and has seen it three more times. Even the park rangers have his number in case they see something strange.

At the headquarters, visitors can book Everglade Tours. While kayaking and hiking, visitors have a chance to spot the infamous creature. 

Guests can also explore the animal exhibit with pythons, turtles, and alligators. At the gift shop, tourists can purchase Skunk Ape finger feet, sweatshirts, hats, stickers, Sili pint cups, and more.

The headquarters is located at the Trail Lakes Campground on Highway 41 in Ochopee, Florida. It’s about 36 miles east of Naples and 60 miles west of Miami.

Keep in Mind: Have you heard of Monkey Island? It’s one of Florida’s most unusual tourist attractions!

A sign for Skunk Ape

How Is Skunk Ape Different From Bigfoot?

Although it is also known as Florida’s Bigfoot, the creatures have a couple of differences. First, Bigfoot is much larger, standing as tall as 10 to 12 feet. Bigfoot also appears more man-like with a human face than the Skunk Ape.

Another key difference is the odor. The Skunk Ape carries around a foul smell like the combination of a wet dog and a skunk. Finally, it lives only in the Everglades region, whereas Bigfoot roams the entire North American continent.

What Is the Best Way to Catch a Skunk Ape Sighting?

According to Shealy, the best way to see the Skunk Ape is on a swamp buggy tour through the Everglades.

However, when he takes tour groups out, he has to stay on the government trail and can’t veer off into the wilderness areas of the wetlands.

He said if anyone is looking for it, get into the middle of the Everglades, away from everything and everyone else.

Shealy has video and photo evidence of the creature, which you can see at the headquarters. He also has a cast of a four-toe footprint, which he found at his hunting camp.

So if you’re looking for this Florida cryptid, Shealy will point you in the right direction.

Keep in Mind: Now that you’ve heard of the Skunk Ape, What About the Wood Booger?

Skunk Ape in the woods

Will You See Florida’s Bigfoot on Your Next Adventure Down South?

Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Skunk Ape all have similar legends surrounding their existence. If you’re a “Squatcher,” head for the swamps of southwest Florida, where you might catch a sighting of Florida’s own Bigfoot. Perhaps you’ll smell it before you actually see it!

Do you believe in these hairy, ape-like, bipedal creatures?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Article
View of mountains in Alaska

What to Pack for Alaska: Our Tried and True Guide

Next Article
View of a Yellowstone hot spring by the boardwalk

Another Dumb Tourist Touches Hot Springs in Yellowstone