Like a Latin American Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monster, El Chupacabra(s) - literally “goat sucker” for the Spanish-ly challenged – is a beast whose alleged existence has plagued farmers and the collective Latin consciousness for some time, now. Not quite as old as Sasquatch, the Yeti or even the Jersey Devil, the legend of El Chupacabra dates back to just 1995.
The first report of a Chupacabra attack was in March of that year – though some say reports go all the way back to the 60’s – in Puerto Rico; eight sheep were killed and completely drained of blood, with three puncture wounds in each of their chests. Authorities attributed the killings to more conventional predators, but many locals suspected a Satanic cult. By August, 150 similar livestock killings had taken place, and by the end of the year the mysterious beast had been blamed for over 1000. Descriptions of the creature varied wildly; in the town of Canóvanas the creature was described as winged, swooping down on its prey. In Caguas, it was said to have hairy arms and red eyes. By the end of 1995, the most prevalent description went a little something like this…
…and the creature was said to leave a sulphurous stench behind it.
By 1996, reports of Chupacabra attacks were being reported on the mainland as well, beginning in Miami and later in the Southwest and in Mexico. Either the creature had migrated, or the stories had become so popular that reports of sightings and copycat attacks were being carried out here, too. (Depends on whether you’re a skeptic.) Particularly in the Southwest, the creature had begun to be described as doglike but reptilian, leading to sightings of a number of Chupacabras that looked like this…
…but are really just mangy coyotes (mange causes loss of fur), which aren’t known for sucking the blood out of anything. Stephen Wagner’s “On the Trail of the Chupacabras” offers this list of more recent – and alarming – sightings:
- In November, 1996, a Mexican rancher near San Antonio, Texas, claimed to have captured the chupacabras with a coyote trap – and produced the photographs to prove it. (This story and photos used to be online, but have sinced become unavailable.) The rancher had set the trap to capture whatever was killing his goats, chickens, and a donkey. What he caught was something he could not recognize. Allegedly, the body of the strange creature was taken to a major Texas university for identification, although this cannot be verified.
- In November, 1997, chupacabras was back in its original stomping grounds where it killed two goats, bled another dry, and made off with a small kid from a small farm near Loíza, Puerto Rico. Investigating police believe that attack took place around 2 a.m., about the time a farm hand heard the “flutter of wings” and saw frightened horses and cows running “as if the devil were in pursuit.”
- On the night of November 12, 1997, near Perth, Australia, two friends investigating what sounded like the squealing of a wild pig, encountered a creature with large, piercing red eyes, a body covered with stringy matted hair, large teeth, and a distinctive sulfur-like odor. “It was about three feet high when on all fours,” said the witness, “and about five feet when trying to stand up. In its mouth was part of a kangaroo. Within a split second, it leapt straight up – dinner and all – as if it had springs for legs.”
- Thirty-four hogs were found dead with the trademark puncture marks on November 17, 1997, near Aricibo, Puerto Rico. The pigs were being raised by inmates of the Sabana Hoyos prison who had planned to feast on the animals for Christmas dinner.
- Near Hesperia in Southern California, a creature matching the description of the “goat sucker” attacked another pig in December, 1997. “I encountered something trying to get to my pig that was unbelievable,” said the owner. “When I came around the corner, it stopped and looked up at me. My dogs seemed to be afraid of it. It then disappeared into the bushes.”
The mysterious livestock deaths don’t really fit the MO for any known predator, and the variations in descriptions of the creature/numerous hoaxes like the image at the top of the article make it incredibly difficult to solve the mystery of El Chupacabra. Until more light is shed on this subject, we’d all better cozy up to images like this one from 2010 Guanajauto, Mexico.