Bigfoot a myth, China declares

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The Independent Online
WITH ONE giant stride, the "wild-man" of China has stepped off the biological record. He was two metres tall, had long red hair, left 40cm footprints, and was rumoured to have bedded down with peasant girls in central China's Hubei province. But now the Chinese government has decreed that he never existed after all.

In the first official word on the long-debated Chinese "Bigfoot" saga, wildlife experts have squashed the hopes of tourism cadres in the Shennongjia mountain forest region of Hubei where the creature was said to roam, attracting many visitors.

"A number of systematic scientific expeditions have found that all reported sightings of Bigfoot were actually of other wild animals," said Zhang Jianlong, an official at the State Administration of Forestry, in a pronouncement carried by the official Xinhua news agency.

Hubei tourism officials have offered a bounty of 500,000 yuan (pounds 37,000) for the capture of a Bigfoot. Mr Zhang said the government did not support "this profit-oriented activity", pointing out that no one was allowed into Shennongjia natural park without his department's permission.

Searches go back to 1959, mostly concentrating on Shennongjia but also in Tibet, a possible home for the Yeti, an ape-man said to inhabit the high Himalayas. Over the years expeditions have enlisted the aid of helicopters, infra-red detectors, luminous compasses, and night- vision scopes. The best they have come up with are supposed samples of hair and faeces.

The last claimed sighting was in September 1993, whentourists said they had seen three human-shaped animals in Shennongjia. According to Xinhua there have been 114 "sightings" of Bigfoot in 70 years in the region. Unfortunately, no one managed to produce any compelling evidence, such as a photograph.

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