The tale of El Chupacabra began in Puerto Rico in 1995 when farmers claimed they found livestock dead – sucked dry of blood – with no signs of a normal predator. Hence, the name, Spanish for “goatsucker”, was coined. The descriptions of the chupacabra were not clear or consistent but sounded more like a mix of pieces of many different animals. Nocturnal, walking (or hopping) on two legs, with sharp fangs and claws, red eyes, and even spikes down its back, it resembles no single known creature.
The monster story spread mainly through the Hispanic and Mexican communities but, thanks to the Internet, it reached rapidly to all corners of the world. The media went into a frenzy over the chupacabra. In short order, the chupacabras appeared on tee shirts, toys and collectables.
The rapid spread of the chupacabra legend influenced reports that came from Florida, Texas and Arizona. Dead cows or chickens were said to be the work of chupacabras when they might simply be the result of dogs or native predators. At the same time, chupacabra “attacks” blended with the concern over other cases of animal deaths.
The history of the chupacabras can be traced back to an association with UFO sightings. In the mid-seventies, amidst reports of UFOs in Puerto Rico, arose the legend of the “Moca Vampire” whose method of killing was also similar with complete blood removal. El Chupacabra, the second-generation bloodsucker, curiously incorporated the modern description of a “gray” space alien. After the initial “flap”of reports, chupacabras sightings petered out but the explanations for the creature become more outrageous.
Currently, the chupacabra is described as much more dog-like. A series of sightings and videos show today’s chupacabra as a hairless, blue or gray colored four-legged animal. Several so-called chupacabras have been found. Upon examination, the small animals were discovered to be coyotes or foxes very ill with a disease called sarcoptic mange. This skin condition causes the animals to lose their hair and look very different from typical animals.
Shall we believe there is a large, bizarre, unknown monster (possibly of extraterrestrial origin) lurking around the southern US and Central America subsisting on the blood of domestic animals? Or is it more realistic to assume that a few cases of mistaken identity were transformed by overt credulity, mass hysteria and media sensationalism into a widespread myth? We actually find many more examples of the latter, but those usually don’t make a hair-raising story.
The chupacabra story is interesting in that the description of the creature turns out to be whatever is in the mind of the observer. And, if an animal is found that looks bizarre, then that is called the chupacabra. This lack of a good definition makes the chupa a folklore animal.
- The Cryptid Zoo: Chupacabra
- How Stuff Works: Chupacabra
- Monstropedia: Chupacabra
- Skeptic’s Dictionary: Chupacabra
- Web Archive of Parascope: Chupalooza!
- Strange Magazine: Mystery Creature in Puerto Rico
REALITY CHECK: The chupacabra has changed so much in description throughout its history it’s hard to know just what it is we are talking about – a humanoid creature or a blue-skinned dog or something in between. If the stories have a shred of truth, they have certainly been exaggeraged to the point where the creature has become mythic. The chupa is a concept, like the bogey man, not a real threat. But, keep an eye on your goats and chickens…
- Can you explain why you think the chupa descriptions vary so much?
- What is it about chupas that scare people so much?
- What do you think is the best explanation for the chupa phenomena?
- Watch this video with a critical eye. What science is presented? Does the narrator, images and sound project a certain image? Does the video suggest a certain explanation? Let us know what you think.