The chupacabra or chupacabras 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 as early as 1995 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.
The first reported attacks occurred in March 1995 in Puerto Rico. In this attack, 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
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The Chupacabra is a legendary cryptid often associated with Mexico, and well-known across Latin America. One of the locations the Chupacabra has made an impact in the past is in Puerto Rico. Reportedly first sighted there during the mid 1990s, the Chupacabra made headlines across the world when livestock started mysteriously dying. Animals were found completely drained of blood through small incisions which, according to experts at the time, were not compatible with the bite of a dog, monkey or any other known carnivore from the region. More than 200 Chupacabra sightings were reported on the island in 1995 alone yet as quickly as the Chupacabra sightings started, they had stopped, leaving behind a trail of questions.
The name "Chupacabra" is of Spanish origin meaning "goat sucker” (from chupar, meaning "to suck", and cabra, meaning “goat”) which is in reference to how the mythical beast allegedly attacks its prey.
The phenomenon of the Chupacabra has been associated with the “Vampiro de Moca" from February 1975 when a Puerto Rican legend tells of fifteen cows, three goats, two geese, and a pig that were found with puncture marks in the Rocha Barrio suburbs of Moca. Later autopsies showed that blood had been drained from their bodies. The incident made headlines and police blamed the animals' deaths on stray dogs. When a cow was found dead with similar marks on its skull, a newspaper called the phenomenon “El Vampiro de Moca.”
A series of isolated attacks took place on the island from 1992 to 1995. In March of 1995, there was a Chupacabra incident where eight sheep were found dead. Their bodies were completely intact but their blood had been drained leaving behind puncture wounds in the chest. Paranormal researcher Mark Davenport and video producer Joe Palermo, were in Puerto Rico at the time of the attacks filming a documentary. They described the animal deaths as a continuous daily event
Day and night over the radio, over television, they were constantly talking about this Chupacabra activity going on - this was very serious to them. They’d wake up one morning and find the carcass of their four favorite rabbits sucked dry of blood and just lying there on the ground.
Five months later, there was another event, this time with more bloodshed. In August of 1995, as many as 150 farm animals and pets were killed by a predator around the Puerto Rican town of Canóvanas. Just like the sheep from the incident in March, the animals were said to have been drained of blood through small holes.
Interestingly, in each of the cases studied, local veterinarians said the cause of death was due to puncture wounds under the right side of the neck. The wounds were about the diameter of a drinking straw and three to four inches (7.62 to 10.16cm) in length. In March 1996, the Spanish talk show Christina, aired the story about the Chupacabra, and immediately following the show there was a tremendous amount of sightings across Latin America and the United States. The Chupacabra had become as famous as Bigfoot.
There are no known photographs of the Chupacabra. Many supposed images have turned out to be nothing more than disease ridden coyotes. Thus, it is unknown what this mythical creature looks like, if it actually exists. There are however, numerous "eyewitness" accounts which vary quite a bit. The Chupacabra of Puerto Rico was described by many eyewitnesses as standing on two legs. In newspaper articles during the series of incidents, it was said to be “ some type of large ape ” and “ a vicious monkey that can run upright on its legs, slaughter goats and suck the blood from its prey .” A sound bite from an Associated Press video at the time said “ There are two big animals, as big as a man. I saw them from afar, they looked like big apes, like a mandril but I couldn't distinguish their features. "
Over a decade ago, farmers in Calama, a mining town in the heart of Chile's harsh northern desert, awoke to find their goats and sheep dead in their pens. An unidentified predator had mutilated the animals' necks. By the time the television cameras arrived, the rumor of a Chupacabra attack, Chile's first, was spreading fast through the slender Pacific nation.
Bigfoot With Teeth?
A mix of vampire and marauding, furry lizard, the Chupacabra has become one of the most common beasts studied under the general heading of cryptozoology, the study of animals that may or may not be real. No one has ever caught a Chupacabra, though plenty of eyewitnesses claim to have seen one. Descriptions vary. Eyewitness accounts during a rash of alleged attacks in 1995, many in Puerto Rico, described the animal as having a "reptilian body, oval head, bulging red eyes, fanged teeth and long, darting tongue," according to a report at the time in the daily San Juan Star.
That same description has weathered decades of scrutiny. First appearing in the late 1960s, alleged Chupacabra attacks picked up markedly in the mid-'90s, moving America's leading cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman, to term the animal "the single most notable cryptozoological phenomenon of the past decade." Coleman is the author of Cryptozoology A to Z.
"What's unique about the Chupacabra is that it's crossing languages, which I think shows how small our world is getting," says Coleman, reached by phone from his home in Portland, Maine. "It's sort of like Jennifer Lopez, kind of cross-cultural."