The single most notable cryptozoological phenomenon of the past decade is undoubtedly the chupacabras (“Goatsucker”) of Hispanic America. The legend of this livestock-slaughtering monster was born in small villages in Puerto Rico in 1995 and quickly spread to Mexico and Hispanic communities in the United States, on its way to becoming a worldwide sensation like no unexplained creature since the Bigfoot of the late 1950s and 1960s.
In March 1995, carcasses of goats, chickens, and other small farm animals, seemingly devoid of blood, began to be found near the Puerto Rican towns of Morovis and Orocovis. In September came the first sightings of an animal said to combine the features of a kangaroo, a gargoyle, and the gray alien of abduction lore. It was said to be hairy, about four feet tall, with a large, round head, a lipless mouth, sharp fangs, and huge, lidless red eyes. Its body was small, with thin, clawed, seemingly webbed arms with muscular hind legs. The hairy creature also had a series of pointy spikes running from the top of its head down its backbone. Investigator Jorge Martin drew a widely circulated sketch based on these descriptions. Local media repeated its widely popular name, “Chupacabras,” in many stories.
Sightings and slain livestock continued to be reported in parts of Puerto Rico throughout the fall of 1995. In March 1996, a segment on the Chupacabras appeared on the TV talk show Christina, the Spanish-language Univision network’s popular counterpart to Oprah Winfrey. The media attention from this exposure appears to have caused the migration of Chupamania into Mexico and the United States.
As media observer Donald Trull has noted, whatever else it may or may not be, Chupacabras represents folklore in the modern age of electronic telecommunications. Once it took centuries for a legend like the Abominable Snowman to be disseminated through generations. The stories told now are similar; what has changed is the speed at which word of mouth travels.
Hispanic television and radio ignited the Chupacabras phenomenon, but more significantly, the Chupacabras is the first monster, as Trull points out, that the Internet can call its own. In 1995, the Internet was gaining a powerful foothold, and the Chupacabras was ideal for the medium. Martin’s celebrated Chupacabras sketch was flashed instantly to a “global network of weirdness-watchers,” Trull discovered. Meantime, Hispanic-oriented information sources eagerly spread Chupacabras tales. This generated a one-two punch of underground publicity, bridging two cultures, and the Chupacabras phenomenon was in full flower before the mass media even knew what it was.
As Trull notes on his Parascope website:
At the height of the craze, there were probably a couple dozen Chupacabras or “Goatsucker Home Pages” on the Internet. Some of them are still around today, including one at Princeton University that may legitimately be the original Goatsucker site. The web site of sensational radio host Art Bell posted an alleged photograph of a living Chupacabras, depicting a ridiculous creature later exposed as a statue from a museum exhibit. The photo nonetheless became a major touchstone of Chupa lore, fueling American interest in the creature.
North American-based Hispanic cryptozoologist Scott Corrales, nevertheless, gathered and investigated Chupacabras reports in a level-headed fashion, despite the media and Internet hysteria. Corrales points out that the modern reports really began in 1974, and Chupacabras folklore dates back to Taino Indian tales of the Maboya. The first major American sighting of the Chupacabras took place in March 1996 in Miami, followed by others in Texas, Arizona, and other North American locations. Chupacabras “sightings” have decreased in frequency since 1996, though the occasional report still surfaces from time to time.
International Society of Cryptozoology’s Richard Greenwell feels that the Chupacabras folklore may comprise mixed traditions about several cryptids. Other cryptozoologists sense there may be one underlying unknown cryptid linked to some of the original Puerto Rican reports on Chupacabras and related Merbeing traditions.
The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters,Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature
Written by Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark – Copyright 1999 Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark
Chupacabras, Spanish for “goat suckers,” are mysterious beasts that kill livestock, according to people living in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other parts of Latin America as well as in Latino communities within the United States. The first reported sighting of a chupacabra was in 1975, when farmers in Puerto Rico began reporting that their animals were being killed in a mysterious way. Specifically, the animals had strange puncture wounds in their necks, and prior to their deaths their owners had heard noises that made them think a large bird was in the area. Soon some people were claiming to have seen strange giant birds in the same area where the attacks occurred.
By August 1975 the killings had ended, but in 1991 another took place, also in Puerto Rico. This time a large dog was killed and mutilated. The dog’s owner described the attackers as being two creatures that were about 4 feet (1.2m) tall and had gray skin and huge heads that featured large eyes but seemingly no nose and only a slit for a mouth. After this incident there were no more killings until 1995, when again several animals (primarily goats, chickens, and other small livestock) were slaughtered in Puerto Rico. This time, descriptions varied. Some witnesses described the creature as having thick hair that was able to change colour to match a natural background, such as a tree trunk or patch of grass. Once again several people said that the beast had wings, but others said that it did not. One person said that it hopped instead of ran, another that it had the face of an ape. Others described its face as more wolflike. Many said that it had huge claws and fangs as well as spikes along its spine that vibrated to make a buzzing sound.
As the livestock killings continued into 1996, Puerto Ricans proposed various theories regarding what the beast might be. Some suggested it was an alien from another planet, others that it was an escaped laboratory animal, produced or altered in some sort of scientific experiment. By this time, the public and the media had dubbed the animal chupacabra because they believed that it sucked the blood of the animals it killed—though subsequent examinations of the carcasses proved this was not the case.
Also in 1996, chupacabra killings were reported in the United States, particularly in Florida, Arizona, and Texas; sceptics attribute this phenomenon to the fact that the American media had begun publishing stories about the Puerto Rican incidents. Soon any mysterious livestock death, not only in the United States but also in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Spain, was being blamed on chupacabras. In most of these cases, as well as in the Puerto Rican cases, government officials blamed the deaths on wild dogs, but public hysteria over chupacabras remained widespread until the end of 1996. Since that time, few chupacabra attacks have been reported, but the belief in the creature remains strong in Latin America.
- Descriptions of Aliens
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning