DURHAM, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Maine is known for a wide variety of wildlife. But for about a week in July of 1973, residents of rural Durham reported seeing an entirely different creature. It’s one that leading cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman has researched for decades.

“Now-a-days, we call it the Durham Gorilla.”

The reports began when the Huntington children were riding their bikes by Jones cemetery near the Durham-Brunswick line when they saw a creature with a "monkey face" running through the cemetery. The children told their mother about the encounter, and the very next day, she saw the creature in the same area on the side of the road before it dashed into the woods. She, too, described an ape-like creature.

“It was hairy, it was bent over, it ran on four legs sometimes, got up on two legs and seemed to run along,” described Coleman.

Dozens of local and state police officers and sheriff’s deputies swarmed the Durham area over the next few days as calls from frightened residents poured in. Could this be a bear? A moose? Newspaper headlines about the creature went from centerfold to front page in a matter of days. Then, investigators found footprints.

“They weren't boots, they weren't moose tracks,” said Coleman. “They were actually ape like tracks with a toe out to the side.”

Similar casts can be seen at the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland.

But, as quickly as it appeared, the ape-like creature vanished. Over the years, people have searched for the so-called Durham Gorilla. Others have speculated the gorilla was just a practical jokester or even an abandoned exotic pet, but Loren Coleman says keep an open mind.

“Just because there are all of these explanations, doesn't mean that any one answers the whole mystery.”

Somewhere in the Maine woods, the truth might still be out there.