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The Impossible Zoo


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About the Author

Dr LEO RUICKBIE, PhD (Lond), MA, BA (Hons), Associate of King's College, is a professional writer, editor, social scientist and historian, specialising in controversial areas of human belief and experience. His PhD is from King's College, London, for his thesis on contemporary witchcraft and magic use, building on research on the theory of re-enchantment that won him an MA with distinction from Lancaster University. He is the author of several books - Witchcraft Out of the Shadows (2004 and 2011), Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician (2009), A Brief Guide to the Supernatural (2012), A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting (2013) and The Impossible Zoo (2016) - as well as numerous publications in scholarly journals, magazines, such as Fortean Times, and newspapers, including the Daily Express. He is also the co-editor with Dr Simon Bacon of Little Horrors: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Anomalous Children and the Construction of Monstrosity (2016), and with Dr Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie of The Material Culture of Magic (forthcoming). As well as writing, he is the editor of the Paranormal Review, the magazine of the Society for Psychical Research, established in 1882 for the scientific study of what we now call the 'paranormal', and has worked on several editorial projects for the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (Romano-German Central Museum) in Mainz, Germany. In addition, he is an elected member of the Royal Historical Society, a council member of the Society for Psychical Research, a committee member of the Gesellschaft fur Anomalistik (Society for Anomalistics), as well as a member of the Parapsychological Association and the Royal Anthropological Institute. He has appeared several times on the Travel Channel series Mysteries at the Castle and his work has been mentioned in the media from the Guardian to Radio Jamaica. Not only has his expertise been sought by film companies, museums and charities, but he is also cited in the current student book for A-Level Sociology in the UK. He can be found on the web at


Leo Ruickbie's impeccably-written The Impossible Zoo is a menagerie like no other, as its exotic inhabitants are fabulous in every sense of the word. So for anyone who has ever wished that dragons and unicorns were real, for anyone who believes that they are, and for anyone who peruses bestiaries with unbridled joy, this magical, mystical, and truly memorable book is definitely for you -- and for me! -- Dr Karl Shuker, author of A Manifestation of Monsters

Ruickbie's truly outstanding writing has three major sources: his impressive level of scholarship; his determination to seek out strange and mysterious phenomena and pursue them relentlessly, objectively and scientifically; and his great literary skill in presenting his conclusions in readable and attractive prose.
In The Impossible Zoo these three factors are clearly present. He is concerned here with what he, himself, describes and defines as parazoology - clearly distinct from cryptozoology. The latter focuses on hidden animal forms: Ruickbie's parazoology focuses on creatures that are beyond the range of normal zoology. He explains parazoology with great lucidity as the biology of the supernatural, the study of the lives of things that never existed - a study that takes in, for example, mermaids and unicorns.
His parazoological specimens were once believed to exist, and they exist now in the world of imagination - a world that can still have profound effects on contemporary life. Ruickbie's great achievement is to round up these strange beasts and confine them in his Impossible Zoo. The results of his work are truly fascinating and his detailed analysis and descriptions of his multitudinous parazoological specimens are enthralling.
I give The Impossible Zoo a very high recommendation indeed.

-- Revd Lionel Fanthorpe, FRSA, author and President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena

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