It's a ... : Unidentified creature stumps experts
06/03/04 - Greensboro
News Record, NC
By Mark Brumley Staff
News & Record
ASHEBORO -- First of all,
this is a real newspaper, not a grocery-store tabloid.
So, the story you're about
to read is true.
It starts with Bill and
Gayle Kurdian throwing out dried corn for the wildlife in
their neck of the woods in eastern Randolph County, and an
odd-looking creature taking them up on their hospitality
early last winter.
"What in the
world?" Bill Kurdian asked himself when he saw the
animal for the first time.
About the size of a fox,
but with short brown hair and a long cat-like tail, it
looked more like an animal in a National Geographic spread
out of Africa than any critter native to the woods of
central North Carolina.
He's seen the creature off
and on since about Christmas, with it wandering up several
nights in a row, then disappearing for awhile.
Though Gayle Kurdian could
vouch for her husband, when Bill Kurdian talked about the
animal, people scoffed that it was just a dog.
"Everybody thought I
was crazy," said Kurdian, the vice president of
Matlab in Asheboro.
But Kurdian, an avid
outdoorsman, got proof.
He captured the animal on
two frames of film on May 20, using a motion-sensing
camera that his wife gave him for Christmas.
In one frame, the animal
was photographed from the front as it approached. The
second frame caught a side view of the animal facing the
Kurdian called Guy Lichty,
a curator of mammals at the North Carolina Zoo in
Asheboro. But Lichty couldn't help based on just the
description. So, as soon as he got his film developed, he
couldn't wait to show it to Lichty. But Lichty and other
curators were still unable to conclusively identify the
Lorraine Smith, another
curator of mammals who looked at the photo, said it might
be a grey fox that has lost much of its fur, possibly
because of parasites. But, she stopped short of total
"You learn with
animals that you don't provide an absolute," Smith
There's speculation that it
might be an exotic animal that got away from its private
owner or was set free. It could also be a hybrid, Kurdian
It's the second time this
year that zoo curators have been called on to identify a
strange animal sighted in the area.
In January, some people
reported seeing an unidentifiable creature in southern
Asheboro. Someone later trapped a large feral cat in the
Zoo spokesman Rod Hackney
joked that he wished North Carolina could put Randolph
County's talent to work finding bizarre creatures for the
"Maybe we could
increase attendance," Hackney quipped.
Kurdian still hopes that
someone can identify his mystery animal. He's trying to
catch it alive so the zoo or the N.C. State vet school can
run blood tests.
"I'm not going to kill
it," Kurdian assured folks.
"I don't think it's a
vicious animal," he said. "It's just
Brumley at 625-8452, Ext. 231, or firstname.lastname@example.org