The yeren, aka “China’s Bigfoot” or “the Wild Man,” has captured the imaginations of adventurers and scientists alike! Witnesses have described it as a human-like creature covered in reddish-black hair. The yeren is also abnormally tall: 6-8ft, but some people have reported heights as large as 12 ft. It only adds to the mystery that there are no photos of this beast—not even blurry snapshots!
The yeren’s appearance is similar to that of Gigantopithecus, an extinct primate. This has lead to theories that the yeren is actually an ancient great ape, surviving on the edge of civilisation. Others speculate that the yeren is a new species of orangutan or a misidentified monkey. However, the most popular theory is that the yeren is a cousin of other bigfoot-like creatures, including sasquatch and yetis.
The Xinhua News Agency has recorded over 400 yeren sightings in the last century, but there are records of this creature dating back to 4th-century China. According to one Tang Dynasty text, a woman gave birth to furry babies after being kidnapped by a “wild man.” Hundreds of years later, an 18th-century poet described a creature that was “monkeylike, but not a monkey.”
In the modern era, the yeren has become a popular tourist attraction. Every year, hundreds of people travel to Shennongjia to catch a glimpse of the fabled yeren. There, visitors can explore the province’s luscious national park and pose with statues of yeren.
But not everyone goes to Shennongjia for a vacation! Some people, like Zhang Jinxing, have dedicated their lives to finding this creature. He estimates that there are twenty yeren in Shennongjia and describes them as peaceful and shy. In an interview with the Global Times, he said, “They seemed afraid of me. One time, I threw them wild fruit, one yerencame, took it and quickly ran away.” However, Zhang has not let that deter him! In his own words, “I feel the yeren is beckoning me. I’m destined for this. The yeren is my love.”
Hopefully, as more people learn about the legend of yeren, committed adventurers like Zhang will be able to reveal the truth. But considering how long Bigfoot has managed to elude cameras, scientists, and traps, yeren will probably remain a mystery for years to come.