There are about as many Bigfoot programs on the air these days as reported sightings of the elusive beast, but few are able to capture the excitement of an investigation, and at the same time remain grounded in sound scientific principles the way that the Travel Channel’s Expedition Bigfoot can.
One of the big reasons for this winning combination is the presence of noted primatologist Dr. Mireya Mayor. Mayor’s experience in the field and allegiance to the scientific method makes her a crucial member of the team (composed of Mayor, Russel Acord, Ronny Leblanc, and Bryce Johnson) and also lends credibility to the group’s findings.
In front of the debut of Season Two of the Travel Channel’s Expedition Bigfoot (on Sunday, January 3 at 9 pm ET), Dr. Mayer took some time out to discuss what she learned during the first investigation and what we can look forward to seeing on the next one.
How did you become involved in the program initially?
Dr. Mireya Mayor: I am a primatologist and I’ve been searching for rare and elusive creatures for nearly twenty years and found the world’s smallest primate in Madagascar.
With your scientific background, were you hesitant to join the Expedition Bigfoot team?
Mayor: I had to think long and hard about it. There are obviously a lot of naysayers in the scientific field, but the show was set up to follow the scientific method and apply the same skills that I was using in the field already.
Expedition Bigfoot certainly takes this approach to the subject matter.
Mayor: Yes, and we had so much tech to aid us in the investigations. We were able to do the research in a way that had never been done before.
Was it this set-up that cemented your involvement in the investigation?
Mayor: Yes, that and the fact that there have been so many eyewitness accounts of Bigfoot and there have also been numerous discoveries of once thought extinct or undiscovered animals over the past few years. There are tens of thousands of these eyewitness reports by people who frankly have a lot more to lose than gain in telling about their encounters.
Were you at all skeptical about joining the team?
Mayor: It is fair to say that I was an open-minded skeptic when I joined the team, but the methods we used matched up with the ones I was using already. I knew from my background that it was possible to find these undiscovered animals. I mean, the largest primate in the world, the gorilla, was only discovered 140 years ago.
What were your thoughts when you were able to analyze all of the footage and evidence that you captured in Season One?
Mayor: It was truly eye-opening. As someone who didn’t consider herself a Bigfoot person, there was a lot of evidence. One of the pieces of evidence was a thermal video we captured of something in the woods and I showed it to Dr. Russ Mittermeier, who has seen every living primate in the world in person. Dr. Mittermeier is not from the Bigfoot world and he was blown away by the footage, saying that the only way that he could describe it was that there was an ape out of Africa living in North America.
There were pieces of evidence like that one that left me baffled. It was difficult for accepted science to explain.
Speaking of things that are difficult to explain, you had a strange experience in Season One involving something that could be described as paranormal in nature.
Mayor: Yes, it was a weird thing for me to experience. I had a vivid nightmare and I thought I could hear little girls giggling outside of my tent in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.
In the morning, I told the team about the dream and that I heard loud giggling. When we later found a very old cemetery in the woods, and the fact that each gravestone contained the name of a little girl, it was certainly a strange coincidence. We have come to understand that a high strangeness surrounds Bigfoot cases, making them even odder.
During the first season, you were embedded in Oregon. This season, you completed your investigation in the deep woods of southeast Kentucky. What was the experience like?
Mayor: It was one the toughest experiences I’ve ever had to deal with and I’ve spent months exploring the Congo, the Amazon, etc. It was unrelenting.
One of the new factors we had to deal with was due to the worldwide pandemic. As people retreated indoors and animals began reclaiming nature. It has resulted in some strange animal behavior and allowed us a double opportunity to examine their behavior. Deer and bears were coming back like never before. This is also probably why Bigfoot sightings have also been on the increase.
Without giving away too much, what can viewers expect in the new season?
Mayor: If you loved the first investigation, you are really going to love this one. The evidence is shocking and compelling and there is one particular twist that will throw everyone for a loop.
Expedition Bigfoot’s new one-hour special recapping the findings of Season One premiers on Sunday, January 3 at 8 pm ET, directly followed by the start of Season Two at 9 PM ET on the Travel Network. In addition, all of Season One and the upcoming episodes in Season Two will be available for streaming on Discovery+ starting on January 4.
If you’d like to read more about Expedition Bigfoot, check out our flashback interview with Bryce Johnson and Russel Acord from Season One.