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Residents of Santa Cruz County were called on to report any Bigfoot sightings. (Edit by Jasmine Weber for Hyperallergic using images by Richard Masoner and Mike Licht)

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Emotions ran high for a few days in Felton, California when the town’s local Bigfoot statue distressingly disappeared from its post at the Bigfoot Discovery Museum.

The four-feet-high wooden Sasquatch, who has guarded the entrance to the museum for nearly two decades, went missing on Monday, November 9, along with a large wooden bear statue believed to be stolen at the same time. Michael Rugg, the museum’s founder, said he had gone to Santa Cruz in a hurry to make a mortgage payment; when he returned, Bigfoot was gone.

Rugg alerted the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, which issued a humorous but entirely non-ironic social media post asking the public to report any Bigfoot sightings.

“Keep your eyes peeled for Bigfoot!” wrote the Sherrif’s Office on Facebook. “No seriously, please be on the lookout for the Bigfoot statue that was stolen from the Bigfoot Museum in Felton this week.”

Known locally as Danny for his purported resemblance to the actor Danny DeVito, the Sasquatch sculpture was carved by a woodworker with Rugg’s help. “When I put the Bigfoot museum together, one of the things I did is I chose to make it look like one of those roadside attractions with redwood carvings outside,” Rugg told the Los Angeles Times. “It represents the building, Bigfoot and my knowledge of it.”

A statue of Bigfoot that was stolen from the Bigfoot Discovery Museum last week was recovered nearly five miles from its home. (all images courtesy of Scotts Valley Police Department)

That knowledge, Rugg says, dates back to his childhood. He claims to have first spotted Bigfoot when he was four years old, during a camping trip with his parents. They dismissed his description of the “gigantic hairy man” he saw standing on a trail in the forest, but the apparition made a lasting impression.

He was inspired to open his Bigfoot Discovery Museum in 2004 to foster public knowledge about mysterious creatures, investigate possible sightings, and, in his words, “keep Santa Cruz weird.”

“People come here from all over the world,” Rugg says in a video trailer for the museum. “They wanna take the monkey off their back, and tell somebody who will believe them.”

Officers recovered the statue on Thursday morning, when the Scotts Valley Police Department responded to reports of “a suspicious figure in the roadway” near Glen Canyon and Green Hills Road, almost five miles from the museum.

Though Bigfoot’s fleeting adventure was likely the work of a prankish thief, the admittedly bizarre situation has given way to some slightly more, uh, imaginative theories.

“Is no one even mildly suspicious that he came to life and got there himself??? Wake up people!” commented one Facebook user on the Scotts Valley Police’s post.

Indeed, Rugg depends on such loyal Bigfoot believers to keep his operation running. According to the LA Times, the museum has always been free to enter, funded by generous donations from visitors and Sasquatch aficionados. This year, Rugg started a GoFundMe page to help face the financial challenges of the pandemic that he fears may shutter the museum for good.

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Valentina Di Liscia

Valentina Di Liscia is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the University of Chicago and is currently working on her MA at Hunter College, where she received the...