THE LEGEND BEGINS
The concept of the Chupacabra is not new – only the name is. Since humans established permanent Neolithic farming settlements and started the process of domesticating animals, (Circa: 10,000bc) their livestock has been attacked by predators. Many of these are now extinct but once included the sabre tooth family of felines, the enormous Short Faced Bear and much more recently – the Tasmanian tiger. There are probably many more that have not made it into the historical and archaeological record.
It is not surprising that people (then and now) that depend on their livestock for their survival could be both fearful and antagonistic towards wild beasts. Myths and legends from long ago are littered with tales of strange creatures – some may even still turn out to be true. (Just think about the folklore surrounding dragons.)
THE VAMPIRE OF PUERTO RICO
In particular there are stories and references to strange attacks on animals that date back decades. One of particular importance to this review is the spate of recorded and similar attacks in and around the Puerto Rican town of Moca on the western side of the Island in 1975. These were blamed on The Vampire of Moca, (El Vampiro).
During the period between1992 and 1995 a spate of attacks on animals occurred around the Eastern half of the island. So frequent were these incidents that Puerto Rican newspapers El Vocero and El Nuevo Dia regularly began to report the killings but, at the time, no single creature was suggested as the culprit. (It is worth noting that both these newspapers had a reputation, at this time, for focusing on the sensational.) It is fair to say that even from the start there was scepticism amongst the more educated levels of Puerto Rican society who attributed the killings to stray dogs which were a serious problem at that time.
The “original” Chupacabra of popular and more recent reporting is a mysterious creature that is described as being about 3ft (36 inches) tall and has aspects of its appearance that are distinctly reptilian such as flaking scales and short spines protruding at intervals along the length of its backbone. However, its skin is said to be leathery and mottled purple and black. The hind quarters of animal somewhat resemble those of a kangaroo and people that have reported seeing it claim that it can leap fair distances. Facially it has the snout of a canine predator but with a huge mouth equipped with two distinctive “sabre” teeth. Its eyes are said to glow orange or red. Some reports add that it has a forked tongue and will make hissing and screeching sounds. Its scent, which is apparently strong, is fetid and faecal in nature (not sulphuric as is often reported). Reports claim that it is also capable of walking on its hind legs.
NAMING THE BEAST
The name Chupacabra is literally the combination of the Spanish words Chupar and Cabra or in English: Suck and Goat and originates from the way this beast allegedly attacks, kills and drains the blood from animals and livestock.
Although the creature (or creatures) now called Chupacabra may have existed for millennia, they came into mainstream awareness after a series of peculiar attacks on livestock in several Puerto Rican towns and especially in, and around, Canóvanas during the months leading up to October 1995.
It is during this period that inhabitants of the local villages started calling it the “Goat Sucker” based on the belief that many of the animals killed were goats and were seemingly drained of blood.
It was apparently during August of 1995 that a major attack occurred in Canóvanas itself and resulted in the death of approximately 150 animals.
It is believed that the first description of the creature was provided by Michael Negron, 25, who discovered an agile, erect, two-legged creature hopping animatedly in the dirt outside his house.
“It (the Chupacabra) was about three or four feet tall, with skin like that of a dinosaur,” he said. “It had eyes the size of hens’ eggs, long fangs, and multicoloured spikes down its head and back. (Please keep in mind that eye-witness accounts often tend to be exaggerated to emphasise the importance of the event. Law enforcement officials are very familiar with this phenomenon.)
New Information: It is worth noting that the town of Canóvanas is only 5.5 miles from the border of the El Yunque National Forest of Puerto Rico. It is the only tropical rainforest within the USA and is 28,000 acres in size. The majority of the very first official Chupacabra sightings and animal attacks were located near to this “preserve.
The first serious search for the Chupacabra was organised on the 29th of October 1995 by the Mayor of Canóvanas, Jose “Chemo” Soto, and repeated at regular intervals.