Flaring bases of the Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) trees at the Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas.

Trees at Big Thicket National Preserve.  USDA photo by Larry Rana; in late August 1996.

A new community education class has been scheduled in Houston, TX, and it’s all about finding monsters. Local Bigfoot enthusiast and researcher Rob Riggs seeks to enlighten East Texans about the mysterious animals and lights that have been seen in the Big Thicket National Preserve, sightings he attributes to either geomagnetic fields affecting hikers’ perceptions, or temporary wormholes to other dimensions. Riggs has been studying Wild Ape sightings in Texas for years, and has even published a book on the subject, but wants to make sure that his research is also available to the general public through community classes.

Doubtful News has written about the class, taking particular umbrage at the Houston Chronicle’s write-up calling the class “college-style”. Interestingly, however, they point out that a true cryptozoology degree would “need to have a background in history, folklore and/or zoology and work within the conventional knowledge framework”.

Whether or not one believes that there are Wild Apes to be found, or whether Riggs is an appropriate instructor for a community education class on the hauntings of the Big Thicket, the idea of a class centered around the local history, folklore and zoology of a location is an interesting one. In many ways, Rigg’s planned presentation seems very similar to the urban “ghost tours” found in many cities, but with a particular focus on the unknown in nature, rather than the spirits of the past. Given that the target audience for many of those tours seems to be tourists, I wonder about the amount of success Riggs will find with a local audience.

That said, the idea of traveling to a remote area for a tour into the unknown and unexplored does sound like an interesting expedition. As the North American Wood Ape Conservancy points out “documentation of the wood ape would also demonstrate that twenty-first-century Earth is not as “small” as many seem to think”, and it would certainly be a grand adventure for those who prefer to spend their vacations out in nature rather than exploring a new urban environment.

What do you think? Would you pay to take a class from a local bigfoot expert? Would you vacation in a park known for its bigfoot sightings? What creepy things are lurking in your local forests?

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