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Is the Jersey Devil Real?
February 2002

People have only caught glimpses of the Jersey Devil, and there is little actual proof that it exists. In the early 1900s, a superintendent of the Philadelphia Zoo offered $10,000 for the Devil's capture. The reward was never claimed.

Over the years, people have had many different ideas about what the Jersey Devil really is. Some people have thought it might be a prehistoric creature like a dinosaur. But scientists haven't found any record of an animal that looked like the Devil. Other people think it might be a sandy hill crane, a large crane with a wingspan of nearly seven feet and a fierce scream. This kind of crane will also attack people.

Another idea is that Mother Leeds gave birth to a deformed baby. During the eighteenth century, people sometimes thought a woman who gave birth to a deformed baby was a witch. Maybe Mother Leeds hid the baby so she wouldn't be called a witch. Then one day it escaped from the house, and neighbors who saw it thought it was a devil. After then, when people saw something strange or frightening, they blamed it on the Jersey Devil.

Whatever the Jersey Devil is, no one knows how to kill it. People have seen the Devil electrocuted, exorcised, shot, and burned, but it has not died. So the next time you hear a screeching cry in the middle of the night, be careful, because it might be the Jersey Devil coming to scare you!

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