Jonathan Downes

Jonathan Downes

Jon Downes at Loch Ness, November 2005
Born 1959
Portsmouth, England
Occupation Author
Organization Centre for Fortean Zoology

Jonathan Downes (born Portsmouth, England, in 1959) is a naturalist, cryptozoologist, author, editor, film-maker, poet, novelist, activist, journalist, composer and singer-songwriter, with a background in radical politics and mental health care. He is Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology. His father, the explorer and Colonial Service Officer J. T. Downes (1925–2006), wrote several books on a wide range of subjects, such as African history, theology and the Devonshire dialect. His mother Mary Downes (née Rawlins) (1922–2002) was a broadcaster and author who published several collections of Nigerian folklore under the pen-name `Yar Kunama`.[1][2][3][4][5]

He is currently (since 1994) the editor of Animals & Men; the journal of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and since 2012 has been the editor of Gonzo Weekly, a digital music magazine, between 2007-10 was the editor of The Amateur Naturalist (formerly `Exotic Pets`) - a magazine published by CFZ Press, the editor of the online magazine blog `Cryptozoology:Online`, and from January 2003 until August 2007 was the Deputy Editor of Tropical World magazine, a tropical fish magazine published in the UK. From 2012-3 he was the editor of UFO Matrix magazine, published by 11th Dimension Publishing. He has also edited and contributed to several other publications over the years [2][6][7][8]

According to his autobiography and other writings, as a child he lived in Nigeria, and then Hong Kong (then a British Crown Colony), and returned to the UK in 1971, when his father was 'invalided out' of the Hong Kong government. He was educated at Bideford Grammar School, (1971-6) and later West Buckland School (1976-7) from which he was expelled. He worked as a nurse for the mentally handicapped between 1981–90 and between 1990 and 1994 ran the fan club for Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel.[6][9][10]

Since 2012 he has been editor of the Gonzo Daily blog, and the Gonzo Weekly e-zine, both in conjunction with Gonzo Multimedia (formerly Voiceprint Records).

He is active in community work, and for some years was part of the team organising the monthly children's service in the village church at Woolfardisworthy, North Devon. Having suffered from manic-depression for years, Downes is an activist for mental health issues. On 21 July 2007 he married his second wife Corinna Newton Downes.

He has two stepdaughters, Shoshannah (27) and Olivia (25) and a granddaughter Evelyn (born September 2014)


Downes and other attendees of the Weird Weekend, 2005

In 1992 Downes founded the Centre for Fortean Zoology, arguably the world's largest cryptozoological research organization. He is vocal in his opinion that cryptozoology should not be considered to be a branch of paranormal research. Although he has written a number of books on UFOs and other Fortean subjects (sometimes in collaboration with his friend and colleague Nick Redfern), he considers cryptozoology to be a branch of mainstream zoology, rather than anything more esoteric.[11]


He has written the following books:

His best selling book is The Owlman and Others. In his 2004 autobiography Monster Hunter, he discusses his years of substance abuse, as well as his achievements as a cryptozoologist. Once described by Nick Redfern as "Cryptozoology's answer to Hunter Thompson", Downes has stated on a number of occasions that this aspect of his life is now firmly in the past. In addition he has edited sixteen annual Yearbooks for the CFZ, and publishedfour annual issues of the Journal of Cryptozoology.

His 2007 book `Island of Paradise` covers in great depth his two expeditions to Puerto Rico in search of the chupacabra and other animals of fortean interest. His latest book, 'The Song of Panne' is a novel.

Also Nick Redfern's 2004 book Three Men Seeking Monsters: Six Weeks in Pursuit of Werewolves, Lake Monsters, Giant Cats, Ghostly Devil Dogs and Ape-men is a fictionalized chronicle of the adventures of Redfern, Downes and Richard Freeman.


In his autobiography and in other published writings, Downes admits that one of his earliest ambitions was to make films. He has made a few of them over the years, including:

He freely admits that his first two films are "rubbish", the former of which is "a load of avant garde bullshit", and the second "a seedy art movie; a semi homage to John Waters, featuring gratuitous nudity, violence, and a pre-op transsexual Nazi." His more recent films, however, are part of the ongoing CFZtv project, and are rough-cut `Guerilla Journalism` projects available for free on the CFZtv website,[12] together with some songs from his albums.

On the Track

In October 2007 Downes announced a new CFZtv project: a monthly webTV show giving all the latest news from the CFZ and cryptozoology news from around the world. It is called `On the Track` and can be found on the CFZtv YouTube channel. The 63rd edition was released on 7 December 2012.

Musical career

1982 - 1996

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Downes was active as a musician and performer, mostly with cult art-rock band The Amphibians from Outer Space with whom he sang, played guitar, bass and piano. He integrated elements of psychodrama and performance art into the performances. He has been described as being an ungodly cross between Warren Zevon and Steve Harley.


However, after his divorce, which ended eleven years of marriage to first wife Alison in 1996, Downes all but dropped out of the music industry in favor of cryptozoology, and has since done only four records and a handful of live musical performances.

Records released by Downes include:


Downes describes himself as "basically an anarchist".[6] As an artist, and indeed in many other ways he was primarily influenced by anarcho-punks Crass, "not really by the music, but by the D-I-Y attitude." He has always maintained the opinion that "in many ways it is more important to be heard than to get paid for it," and the CFZ, his music and films have always been disseminated along broadly anarchist and libertarian lines.

Appearances in Media

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - Season 4 Episode 1: Cryptozoology[13]

Slenderman Killings: Beyond Evil (2016)


  1. Downes J.T `Fragrant Harbours, Distant Rivers: The Making of modern Africa` (CFZ, Woolsery, 2006)
  2. 1 2 Null Hypothesis | The Fortean Zoologist
  3. Bigfoot: British Controversy Grows 2003
  4. Blather: The Centre for Fortean Zoology: Jon Downes Interview - Cryptozoology, The Owlman and Other Monsters
  5. North Devon Gazette - Expedition to hunt monsters
  6. 1 2 3 Downes, J `Monster Hunter` (autobiography), ISBN 978-0-9512872-7-9 (CFZ press, Exeter, 2004)
  7. Nick Redfern's "There's Something in the Woods...": CFZ Director Jon Downes Under The Spotlight
  8. In Search of the Mad Gasser | Articles | Features | Fortean Times UK
  9. Fanthorpe, L and P `The World's Most Mysterious People` (Hounslow Press, Canada, 1998)
  10. Redfern N `Three men seeking monsters` (Paraview, NYC, 2005)
  11. CFZ Website
  12. CFZtv
  13. "Showtime: Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Season 4 Episode 1". Retrieved 23 May 2011.

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/18/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.