Jonathan Downes (born Portsmouth, England, in 1959) is a naturalist, cryptozoologist, author, editor, film-maker, poet, 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`.
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.
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.
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)
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.
He has written the following books:
Take this Brother may it serve you well (1988)
Riding the Waves (with Kim Andrews) (1990)
El Grand Senor (with Kim Andrews) (1991)
Road Dreams (1993)
Smaller Mystery Carnivores of the Westcountry (1996)
The Owlman and Others (ISBN 1-905723-02-4, 1997)
The Rising of the Moon with Nigel Wright (ISBN 0-9544936-5-6, 1999)
Weird Devon with Richard Freeman and Graham Inglis (ISBN 1-899383-38-7, 2000)
UFOs over Devon (ISBN 1-899383-37-9, 2000)
Weird War Tales with Nick Redfern (2000)
Weird War Tales Volume 2 with Nick Redfern (2000)
The Blackdown Mystery (ISBN 1-905723-00-8, 2000)
Only Fools and Goatsuckers (ISBN 0-9512872-3-0, 2001)
In the Beginning – Animals & Men Collected Editions Volume One (Ed)(2001)
The Number of the Beast – Animals & Men Collected Editions Volume Two(Ed) (2001)
The Monster of the Mere (ISBN 0-9512872-2-2, 2002)
Monster Hunter (ISBN 0-9512872-7-3, 2004)
Strength through Koi (ISBN 1-905723-04-0, 2006)
The Call of the Wild – Animals & Men Collected Editions Volume Three (ISBN 978-1905723072, 2007)
The Island of Paradise: Chupacabra, UFO Crash Retrievals, and Accelerated Evolution on the Island of Puerto Rico (ISBN 978-1905723324) (2008)
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. His latest book is a re-examination of the Puerto Rican chupacabras mythos, based on two expeditions to the island in 1998 and 2004. In addition he has edited ten annual Yearbooks for the CFZ.
His new 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.
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.