An artist's rendition of the chupacabra.
|Other name(s)||Chupacabras, El Chupacabra|
|Region||Caribbean (chiefly Puerto Rico)
Central and South America
North America (chiefly Mexico and southern United States)
The chupacabra or chupacabras (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃupaˈkaβɾas], literally "goat-sucker"; from chupar, "to suck", and cabra, "goat") is a legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, with its first purported sightings reported in Puerto Rico. The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats.
Physical descriptions of the creature vary. It is purportedly a heavy creature, the size of a small bear, with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail.
Eyewitness sightings have been claimed in Puerto Rico, and have since been reported as far north as Maine, and as far south as Chile, and even being spotted outside the Americas in countries like Russia and the Philippines, but many of the reports have been disregarded as uncorroborated or lacking evidence. Sightings in northern Mexico and the southern United States have been verified as canids afflicted by mange. According to biologists and wildlife management officials, the chupacabra is an urban legend.
Chupacabras can be literally translated as "goat-sucker", from chupar ("to suck") and cabra ("goat"). It is known as both chupacabras and chupacabra throughout the Americas, with the former being the original word, and the latter a regularization of it. The name in Spanish can be preceded by a singular masculine article (el chupacabras), or the plural masculine article (los chupacabras).
The first reported attack occurred in March 1995 in Puerto Rico. Eight sheep were discovered dead, each with three puncture wounds in the chest area and completely drained of blood. A few months later, in August, an eyewitness, Madelyne Tolentino, reported seeing the creature in the Puerto Rican town of Canóvanas, when as many as 150 farm animals and pets were reportedly killed. In 1975, similar killings in the small town of Moca were attributed to El Vampiro de Moca ("The Vampire of Moca"). Initially, it was suspected that the killings were committed by a Satanic cult; later more killings were reported around the island, and many farms reported loss of animal life. Each of the animals was reported to have had its body bled dry through a series of small circular incisions.
Puerto Rican comedian and entrepreneur Silverio Pérez is credited with coining the term chupacabras soon after the first incidents were reported in the press. Shortly after the first reported incidents in Puerto Rico, other animal deaths were reported in other countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Brazil, United States, and Mexico.
A five-year investigation by Benjamin Radford, documented in his 2011 book Tracking the Chupacabra, concluded that the description given by the original eyewitness in Puerto Rico, Madelyne Tolentino, was based on the creature Sil in the science-fiction horror film Species. The alien creature Sil is nearly identical to Tolentino’s chupacabra eyewitness account and she had seen the movie before her report: "It was a creature that looked like the chupacabra, with spines on its back and all... The resemblance to the chupacabra was really impressive," Tolentino reported. Radford revealed that Tolentino "believed that the creatures and events she saw in Species were happening in reality in Puerto Rico at the time," and therefore concludes that "the most important chupacabra description cannot be trusted." This, Radford believes, seriously undermines the credibility of the chupacabra as a real animal.
In addition, the reports of blood-sucking by the chupacabra were never confirmed by a necropsy, the only way to conclude that the animal was drained of blood. An analysis by a veterinarian of 300 reported victims of the chupacabra found that they had not been bled dry.
Radford divided the chupacabra reports into two categories: the reports from Puerto Rico and Latin America where animals were attacked and it is supposed their blood was extracted, and the reports in the United States of mammals, mostly dogs and coyotes with mange, that people call "chupacabra" due to their unusual appearance.
In late October 2010, University of Michigan biologist Barry O'Connor concluded that all the chupacabra reports in the United States were simply coyotes infected with the parasite Sarcoptes scabiei, whose symptoms would explain most of the features of the chupacabra: they would be left with little fur, thickened skin, and rank odor. O'Connor theorized that the attacks on goats occurred "because these animals are greatly weakened, they're going to have a hard time hunting. So they may be forced into attacking livestock because it's easier than running down a rabbit or a deer."
Although several witnesses came to the conclusion that the attacks could not be the work of dogs or coyotes because they had not eaten the victim, this conclusion is incorrect. Both dogs and coyotes can kill and not consume the prey, either because they are inexperienced, or due to injury or difficulty in killing the prey. The prey can survive the attack and die afterwards from internal bleeding or circulatory shock. The presence of two holes in the neck, corresponding with the canine teeth, are to be expected since this is the only way that most land carnivores have to catch their prey.
The most common description of the chupacabra is that of a reptile-like creature, said to have leathery or scaly greenish-gray skin and sharp spines or quills running down its back. It is said to be approximately 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 m) high, and stands and hops in a fashion similar to that of a kangaroo.
Another common description of the chupacabra is of a strange breed of wild dog. This form is mostly hairless and has a pronounced spinal ridge, unusually pronounced eye sockets, fangs, and claws. Unlike conventional predators, the chupacabra is said to drain all of the animal's blood (and sometimes organs) usually through three holes in the shape of a downwards-pointing triangle or through one or two holes.
The peuchens of Chile also share similarities in their supposed habits, but instead of being dog-like they are described as winged snakes. This legend may have originated from the vampire bat, an animal endemic to the region.
In the Philippines, another legendary creature called the Sigbin shares many of chupacabra's descriptions. The recent discovery of the cat-fox in Southeast Asia suggests that it could also have been simply sightings of this once unknown animal.
In popular culture
The popularity of the chupacabra has resulted in its being featured in many types of media.
- At least one published mystery novel uses aspects of the myth as the centerpoint of the plot. Other kinds of books include those that provide a scientific explanation for the phenomena.
- The chupacabra has appeared in various science fiction and monster movies, including Chupacabra: Dark Seas, starring John Rhys-Davies, and Guns of El Chupacabra, starring Scott Shaw. In 2014, the found-footage horror film Indigenous, involving friends vacation in Panama who find themselves being hunted by a pack of Chupacabra, was released.
- CNN's Ed Lavandera has described the chupacabra as the "Bigfoot of Latino culture" and has stated that "El Chupacabra also symbolizes the fear of something that doesn't exist". Following the incident in Cuero, Texas, the popularity of the chupacabra myth was receiving global attention. Phylis Canion, who was responsible for capturing the alleged specimen, claimed that T-shirts highlighting the event were shipped to locations such as Italy, Guam, and Iraq. The publicity that Cuero received following this event has led to some suggesting changing the town's mascot. In July 2008, History's Monster Quest series featured the Texas carcasses, which were determined to be dogs and coyotes.
- The Welsh rock band Super Furry Animals has a song on the 1997 album Radiator called "Chupacabras".
- In a special issue of Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four released on December 28, 2007, a group of chupacabras are featured as antagonists.
- The myth of the chupacabra is mocked in the 2012 episode "Jewpacabra" of the cartoon series South Park in which antisemitic main character Eric Cartman claims to have seen a Jewish Chupacabra that kills children on Easter.
- Chupacabras are dismissed by Dr. Venture as mythical in The Venture Brothers episode "Dia de Los Dangerous!" (season 1, episode 1), before a number of them appear in Brock Samson's car.
- In season 4, episode 11 "El Mundo Gira" (aired in 1997) of the television show The X-Files, El Chupacabra is featured.
- The TV show Lost Tapes on Animal Planet featured an episode about the creature in the first season.
- In the episode "Chupacabra" of the TV series Grimm, El Chupacabra is a Wesen losing his mind and control over transformations due to a mosquito-spread disease.
- In the Jackie Chan Adventures episode "The Curse of El Chupacabra", Jackie Chan's friend El Toro gets scratched and infected by a Chupacabra, causing him to transform into another Chupacabra every night, much like a werewolf.
- "Illegal Immigrants Frightened by Raid Rumors; George Bush: "The Decider"; "Happy Slapping"". CNN. May 2, 2006. Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- Radford, Benjamin (2011). Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction and Folklore. ISBN 9780826350152.
- Miried Gonzalez Rodriguez. Dizfrazado el chupacabras (in Spanish). Puerto Rico: Primera Hora.
- Diccionario Clave, chupacabras Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine.. It states that both singular and plural is chupacabras.
- Wagner, Stephen. "On the trail of the Chupacabras". Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- Wagner, Stephen. "Encounters with Chupacabras". Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- Corrales, Scott. Chupacabras: And Other Mysteries. ISBN 1-883729-06-8
- Radford, Benjamin. "Slaying the Vampire: Solving the Chupacabra Mystery" Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. 35 No. 3, May/June 2011, Pages 45–48
- Than, Ker (28 October 2010). "Chupacabra Science: How Evolution Made a Mythical Monster". National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- "Scary chupacabras monster is as much victim as villain". umich.edu. 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "Evaluation of Suspected Predator Kills". Archived from the original on 2012-01-01. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
- "Breaking News Videos, Story Video and Show Clips - CNN.com". CNN. 12 March 2014.
- "Chupacabras Biography". Retrieved May 10, 2007.
- Wagner, Stephen. "The Top 10 Most Mysterious Creatures of Modern Times". Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- Tomás De Jesús Mangual (January 9, 2006). "Imputan otro ataque al Chupacabras". El Vocero. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- Article: Tras los pasos del chupacabras. El centro, Journal. 26-07-2004 (in Spanish)
- Meek, James (2005-12-07). "On the trail of the Borneo cat-fox". The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-07-23.
- Wagner, Lloyd. El Chupacabras: Trail of the Goatsucker. ISBN 0-595-33315-X
- Corrales, Scott. Chupacabras: And Other Mysteries. ISBN 1-883729-06-8
- Authors, Mandy, and Clifton C. Phillips. Chupacabra, You Don't Scare Me! ISBN 0-8059-4490-7
- "Chupacabra craze goes global". KVUE. August 28, 2007. Archived from the original on December 4, 2007. Retrieved October 5, 2007.
- "Video - MonsterQuest". History Channel. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
- Chupacabras (lyrics). Super Furry Animals. Radiator (album). 1997
- Beale, Lewis (26 December 2007). "Chupacabras Marvel back". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2013-06-22.
- "New South Park Episode 'Jewpacabra' Takes On Easter, Passover, Chupacabra [VIDEO]". International Business Times. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "Chupacabra Rap". YouTube. 2016-05-10. Retrieved 2016-09-19.
- Alleged chupacabra likely a "Xolo dog"; story a hoax
- Lundborg, Pam (September 25, 2009). ""Chupacabra" remains bought by Oswego County man". Syracuse.com. Retrieved 2016-01-20.
- Chupacabra mystery solved