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Historically documented Incidents

The Beast of Gévaudan

Gevaudan
Fig. 1: Representation of the Beast of Gévaudan

The Beast of Gévaudan was first mentioned in reports in 1764. They reported that civilians in southern France had been attacked and massacred by a wolf-like creature. The first encounter with her had been with a woman herding her cattle. Her dogs immediately fled at the sight of the wolf-like creature, which had the size of a donkey. The oxen of the threatened woman alone drove the unusual animal with their horns from the scene of the event and saved her life.

After this first encounter, the creature finally began to kill women and children. In over 60 cases, it had ripped heart and/or other vital organs out of its victims. As the brutality of the attacks increased, the peasants began to speculate whether the creature was not a loup-garou, a werewolf. Reports began to accumulate that the beast would sneak around the houses at night and watch the sleeping dwellers. Many people dared not leave their houses at night.

After two children had been found dead, bestially beaten to death, they turned to the royal court of Versailles for help. King Louis XV then sent a strong force under the leadership of Captain Duhamel to the remote region.
Although the troops often came into contact with the creature, they were unable to kill it. Soldiers even lay in wait, disguised as women, because it was believed that the beast would only attack easy prey.
Finally, the troops that had been sent before were withdrawn and returned to their barracks, as there were no further attacks.

However, the spook began anew shortly after the troops had marched out, and it did not take long until a high head bonus on the killing beast was exposed. Many hunters followed the money's lure call and tried to get hold of the beast and kill him. Several hundred wolves fell victim to the hunters' efforts, although the number of murdered children and the brutality of the beast seemed to increase.

Gevaudan 2
Fig. 2: contemporary scenography

In June 1767, the Marquise d'Apcher gathered a crowd of hundreds of hunters and trackers around him to finally kill the beast. The hunting party divided into many small groups and systematically combed the land.
Jean Castel, who had loaded his weapons with silver bullets, found the creature in a forest and shot at it twice. The second bullet hit the beast right in the heart and killed him on the spot.
The following autopsy of the carcass brought the certain knowledge that the beast had finally been shot, because the remains of a little girl were found in her stomach. For weeks the carcass of the hunted animal was driven through the country to celebrate the end of the beast.

Later investigations have shown that the described events actually happened like this. Cryptozoologists, after careful examination of the autopsy documents, came to the conclusion that the beast of GĂ©vaudan must have been a stately wolf.

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