The chupacabra or chupacabras (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃupaˈkaβɾas], literally 'goat-sucker'; from Spanish: chupar, 'to suck', and cabras, 'goats') is a legendary creature in the folklore of parts of the Americas, with its first purported sightings reported in Puerto Rico in 1995. The name comes from the animal's reported vampirism—the chupacabra is said to attack and drink the blood of livestock, including goats.
An artist's rendition of the chupacabra
|Other name(s)||Chupacabras, El Chupacabra|
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, as far south as Chile, and even outside the Americas in countries like Russia and the Philippines. 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 cabras ('goats'). 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 is attributed to Puerto Rican comedian Silverio Pérez, who coined the label in 1995 while commenting on the attacks as a San Juan radio deejay.
The first reported attack eventually attributed to the creatures occurred in March 1995 in Puerto Rico. Eight sheep were discovered dead, each with three puncture wounds in the chest area and reportedly completely drained of blood. A few months later, in August, an eyewitness named 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, the United States, and Mexico.
In October and December 2018, there came many reports of suspected chupacabras in Manipur, India. Many domestic animals and poultry were killed in a suspicious manner similar to other chupacabra attacks, and several people reported that they had seen chupacabras. However, forensic experts opined that street dogs were responsible for mass killing of domestic animals and poultry after studying the remnants of a corpse.
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 1995 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 a rank odor. O'Connor theorized that the attacks on goats occurred "because these animals are greatly weakened, [so] 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, but sometimes through only 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 popular culture
The popularity of the chupacabra has resulted in it being featured in many types of media.
- The critically acclaimed debut album of Imani Coppola is titled Chupacabra.
- Following an incident in Cuero, Texas, the popularity of the chupacabra myth received global attention. Phylis Canion, who was responsible for retrieving 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 making the chupacabra the town's mascot.
- 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.
- The Magic: The Gathering set Rivals of Ixalan introduced a card named "Ravenous Chupacabra" in January 2018.
- The Chupacabra was included as one of several vinyl figurines in Cryptozoic Entertainment's Cryptkins blind box toy line in 2018. A redesigned series of figurines, including an updated Chupacabra, was released in August 2020.
- The search for a chupacabra was featured in the 1997 The X-Files episode "El Mundo Gira".
- 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.
- "Chupacabra" was the title of the midseason finale of season 4 of the supernatural drama television series Grimm in December 2014.
- The Adventures of Chupacabra Charlie is a children's book by Frederick Luis Aldama and Chris Escobar about a polite 10-year-old chupacabra who yearns for adventure beyond the edge of los Estados Unidos ('the United States'). It was published in 2020.
- Radford, Benjamin (2011). Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction and Folklore. ISBN 978-0-8263-5015-2.
- González Rodríguez, Miried (24 September 2002). "Disfrazado el chupacabras" [Disguised as chupacabras]. Primera Hora (in Spanish). Puerto Rico. Archived from the original on 25 April 2018. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
- "chupacabras". Diccionario Clave. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. states that both singular and plural is chupacabras.
- Pérez, Silverio (2000). Más humortivación: para el camino del éxito [More Humortivation: The Path for Success]. Dreams Come True. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-9702011-0-2.
- Radford, Benjamin (1 June 2017). "Was the Nightjar an Early Chupacabra?". Center for Inquiry. Archived from the original on 14 September 2019.
- Wagner, Stephen (1998). "On the trail of the Chupacabras". About.com. Archived from the original on 19 September 2005.
- Wagner, Stephen (2000). "Encounters with Chupacabras". About.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007.
- Reportaje: Ataque a gallinas en el sector Seburuquillo de Lares [Report: Attack on hens in the Seburquillo sector of Lares] (News segment) (in Spanish). Mundo Ovnis. Retrieved 20 June 2020 – via YouTube.
- Corrales, Scott (September 1997). Chupacabras and Other Mysteries. Greenleaf Publications. ISBN 1-883729-06-8.
- Radford, Benjamin (May 2011). "Slaying the Vampire: Solving the Chupacabra Mystery" (PDF). Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 35 no. 3. pp. 45–48. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 August 2020.
- Than, Ker (28 October 2010). "Chupacabra Science: How Evolution Made a Mythical Monster". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 19 May 2014. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
- Ross-Flannigan, Nancy (25 October 2010). "Scary chupacabras monster is as much victim as villain". The University Record. University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 26 August 2020.
- Wade, Dale A.; Bowns, James E. (May 2010). "Evaluation of Suspected Predator Kills". Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center. Texas A&M University. Archived from the original on 1 January 2012.
- "Breaking News Videos, Story Video and Show Clips". CNN. 12 March 2014.
- Carroll, Robert Todd (29 October 2015). "Chupacabra". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Archived from the original on 26 August 2020.
- Wagner, Stephen (8 September 2017). "The Top 10 Most Mysterious Creatures of Modern Times". ThoughtCo. Dotdash. Archived from the original on 17 April 2019.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- De Jesús Mangual, Tomás (9 January 2006). "Imputan otro ataque al Chupacabras" [Another attack attributed to chupacabras]. El Vocero. San Juan, Puerto Rico. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007.
- "Legends of the Ozarks". Travel Channel. pp. 6–8. Archived from the original on 26 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
- Moraga, Patricio (26 July 2004). "Tras los pasos del chupacabras" [Following the steps of chupacabras]. El centro, Journal (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 19 June 2007.
- "Chupacabra craze goes global". KVUE. 28 August 2007. Archived from the original on 4 December 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
- Kleinman, Jacob (5 April 2012). "New South Park Episode 'Jewpacabra' Takes On Easter, Passover, Chupacabra [VIDEO]". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 25 December 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
- "Ravenous Chupacabra". Magic: The Gathering Gatherer. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 27 August 2020.
- "Cryptkins Vinyl Figures". Cryptozoic Entertainment. Archived from the original on 12 May 2019. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- Squires, John (13 February 2018). "New Vinyl Toy Line 'Cryptkins' Will Feature Blind Box Monsters of Myth". Bloody Disgusting. Archived from the original on 13 February 2018. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- "Cryptkins™ Unleashed". Cryptozoic Entertainment. 2020. Archived from the original on 27 August 2020. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
- Hutmacher, Ed (February 2009). "Mexico's Chupacabras Meets the X-Files". Banderas News. Archived from the original on 20 August 2019. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
- Aldama, Frederick Luis (2020). The adventures of Chupacabra Charlie. Illustrated by Chris Escobar. Columbus, OH: Latinographix. ISBN 978-0-8142-5586-5. OCLC 1114814544.
- Alleged chupacabra likely a "Xolo dog"; story a hoax
- Lundborg, Pam (25 September 2009). ""Chupacabra" remains bought by Oswego County man". Syracuse.com. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
- Chupacabra mystery solved from Seeker.com