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There – That Was a Monster . . . Wasn’t It?

Jon Kaufman
Jon Kaufman

Somewhere, in a forest near you, the MonsterQuest team is searching the underbrush for something abnormal, something monstrous.  Unfortunately, the likelihood of these folks finding anything interesting is slim to none.

In 2007 the History Channel launched Monsterquest, a favorite program of mine which broadcasts weekly safaris into the unknown.   Whether it’s Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster or the Louisiana Swamp Beast, MonsterQuest “scientists” span the globe searching for mysterious creatures.  To date none of these elusive brutes have been captured or even seen by the camera wielding monster unit, yet, in my heart there is always hope for a shocking zoological discovery.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, a typical episode consists of….

A grainy photograph and or video tape of the alleged beast, many of which resemble a costumed high school mascot dancing at halftime.

Eyewitness accounts of human encounters detailed by the actual folks who ran afoul of the critter.  As you watch the interview it becomes clear why the creature ran back into the woods rather than chat with some of these humans.

A team of researchers hiding cameras in the brush, hoping to capture the animal on film.  Often the cameras yield some nice shots of bunnies and deer, but little more.

An unwavering scientific conclusion stating that upon compiling the information gathered during the show, MonsterQuest is confident in saying that they have no earthly idea what that was skulking around an old lady’s porch in Fresno last fall.

Frankly I was ready to give up on this program when I caught a promo during the History Channel’s cavalcade of serial killers hour which briefly renewed my hope.

Billed as “Super Rats” the MonsterQuest crew would be venturing into the wilds of Manhattan in search of giant rats.  Surely even these boneheads could handle this gig?  Finding a giant rat in New York should be as simple as finding desperate gamblers in Las Vegas, right?

My son ( a child born and raised in Roanoke who had never witnessed a rat the size of a toaster oven before) joined me as the episode hit the air.  The program began with a rat “expert” claiming that the biggest rat ever captured was a mere twelve inches long and that there was no such creature as a “Super Rat.” Remembering my childhood I could not believe my ears!  No huge rats in New York! My near-sighted grandmother once stopped to pet a jumbo street rat mistaking the behemoth for a cat.  Horrified onlookers shrieked, and startled the freakish rodent which hastily retreated into a pot hole the size of a greenside golf bunker.

Something seemed a bit fishy to me. Perhaps a union delegate from the NYC Rats and Rodents local 415 paid a visit on this expert just before the taping, standing slightly off camera during the interview while holding a gun on the rat connoisseurs’ next of kin?

Next a crack band of rodent lovers outfitted a normal sized rat with a tiny harness and camera, hoping that their furry partner could provide them with candid shots of a Super Rat in his underground habitat.  To the surprise of no one, the rat was able to wriggle off the camera in a matter of seconds and disappear into the ground. The previous week the same geniuses mounted a camera on a wild boar which disappeared with the video unit and is probably taping his family vacation as we speak.

The next stop for the intrepid adventures was a basement in the Bronx where a building superintendent had perfected the art of rendering large rodents unconscious with the blade of a hockey stick.  This stick-handling terror had racked confirmed kills in four of the five boroughs and was determined to bag the big one for the folks out there in TV land.  Sadly, the goal remained empty, not even the Gretsky of exterminators would light the lamp that evening.

MonsterQuest then sojourned into the bowels of the city’s subway system and met two hobos who claimed to have seen rats the size of dogs trotting around their underground lair.  The ambitious team quickly organized an undercover stake-out hoping to sneak-up on the Super Rats with their twelve person camera crew sporting two hundred pounds of

high-wattage lighting, however, curiously, the Super Rats failed to appear.

Much to my dismay, the MonsterQuesters found no giant rats in New York.  This week the crack team is in Venezuela hunting giant snakes.  You have to admire their pluck. Me?  I might have opted for a less ambitious assignment, like finding a marked-down tray of begonias at Walmart, but that’s just me.

By Jon Kaufman
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