Gregory L. Reece.
The blending of the natural and supernatural is a prominent characteristic of stories concerning the Latin American creature known as Chupacabras, the ‘Goat Sucker.’ Starting in the 1990s in Puerto Rico, stories of the Chupacabras quickly spread to other nations, including the United States. The Goat Sucker acquired its name because of its tendency to leave farm animals drained of blood, with only a small puncture wound providing any evidence of how this might have been done. The killing of farm animals often corresponded with sightings of a strange creature – usually described as between three and four feet tall, with powerfully built hind legs (like a kangaroo), and dark black eyes that glowed red at night. The creature was also described as having a strange crest of spiny feathers running down its back. In addition to these strange, but perfectly natural, characteristics, witnesses also claim to have experienced things that would seem to indicate that something more than a flesh-and-blood animal was involved – including some witnesses who claim that the creature emitted beams of light from its eyes that brightened the surrounding darkness like flashlights.
Scott Corrales, in his book Chupacabras and Other Mysteries, provides the most complete record of the early reports from Puerto Rico and it is clear that those reports contain a bizarre mix of both natural and supernatural elements. For example, Corrales describes witnesses’ accounts of the creature in flight. Some accounts indicate an unusual but natural phenomenon, while others indicate something weirder:
Many who saw the Chupacabras said it has a web of skin connecting its wrist to its knee or ankle, that this web forms a ‘wing,’ like that of a flying squirrel when it raises its arms, and that this structure allows it to glide like a hang glider. But some witnesses insisted that the Chupacabras has a levitation capability that allows it to float through the air like Superman, in level flight without flapping wings, and without other means of propulsion. One witness claimed that the extremely rapid movement of small, feather-like appendages along its backbone propelled it like a bumblebee. (4)
Whatever it was, natural or supernatural, the Chupacabras quickly became the topic of conversation throughout Puerto Rico. Soon, people everywhere were seeing the Goat Sucker. Corrales reports that in May 1995 a San Juan television station reported that a police officer and several witnesses had seen a gargoyle-like creature while waiting at a bus stop. The creature was reportedly spotted outside a government building unpleasantly devouring a large rat. The police officer attacked it with his baton, but quickly had the tables turned on him. The Chupacabras flew into the air and grabbed the baton in its claws before flying away. Soon after, the creature was spotted flying over a busy expressway (15).
The strangeness was only getting started.
One witness spotted the creature outside her home and managed to get a close look at it through a window. She reported:
It was such a weird creature that I even got down on the floor to see if it had genitals. It had nothing at all – it was ‘plain’ and sealed. I laughed, and said to my mother, ‘What the heck is this? Does it defecate through its mouth after it eats?’ It made robot-like movements as if being controlled by someone. (35)
Corrales also recounts this encounter between another police officer and the creature:
The creature attacked a Chow dog at policeman Juan Collazo’s home. He heard some noises in the lower part of his home. He went down with his service revolver, and he saw the creature attacking his dog. He immediately fired at it. His car was parked behind the creature. The creature took the bullet’s initial impact, bounced off the wall, took off in a flash, and disappeared. He says it flew . . . The creature had apparently shaved the place on the dog where it was going to make its incision. (57)
Corrales offers up several possible explanations for the origins and nature of the creature, including that the creature may be an extraterrestrial, a visitor from another dimension, or the result of some bizarre genetic experiment. In any event, whatever it may be, Corrales argues that it must be taken seriously. ‘Real animals belonging to real people are being slaughtered by a being not native to the Puerto Rican ecosystem’ (164).
It did not take long for the Chupacabras to move beyond the Puerto Rican ecosystem, however. Fairly quickly after the initial sightings in 1995 the Chupacabras appears to have migrated to other regions of Latin America and to the United States. Reports of the creature surfaced in southern California and Miami, Florida. Within a few years the creature was making news and headlines in Texas. Everywhere it appears, reports of dead farm animals occur, their blood drained from their bodies. As with Bigfoot, the only hope for solving the mystery was to obtain an actual physical specimen. At this point, Chupacabras hunters caught a break.
Texas television stations reported that residents had discovered the remains of the mysterious creature – not once, but several times. Video and photographic images of the carcasses of strange creatures were broadcast on television and soon spread on the internet. These creatures were roughly canine in appearance, but completely hairless and with powerful back legs. Their teeth were extremely long, growing from protruding gums. Farmers reported that in the preceding months chickens and goats had been found drained of all blood. Were these the mysterious Chupacabras? Veterinarians and experts claimed that they were coyotes suffering from severe cases of mange and malnutrition. Skeptics scoffed at the claims, as did true believers in Chupacabras, who noted that these animals, strange though they might be, were certainly not the same creatures that had been seen by other witnesses. The original creatures – creatures with high-beam eyes and the ability to fly – could certainly not be mistaken for mangy coyotes. The mystery, even with a specimen, was far from over.
Chupacabras was not the first mysterious creature to thrive both on land and in the sky. In 1966 Point Pleasant, West Virginia became the centre of a series of sightings immortalized by John Keel in his bestselling account The Mothman Prophecies (later made into a movie starring Richard Gere). The sightings began in November with the report of an 18-year-old girl, Connie Carpenter, who reported that, while driving past a deserted golf course at around 10:30 a.m., she observed a huge gray creature, shaped liked a man but considerably larger. Like the Chupacabras, the eyes of the creature made quite an impression: they were large, round, and glowing red. Keel reports that as Carpenter slowed down for a closer look, the creature unfolded a pair of huge wings. It then rose straight up into the air, again like the Chupacabras, more like a helicopter than a bird. It swooped low over her car before she sped away in terror. Keel reports that during the winter over 100 people saw the creature, dubbed the Mothman.
A group of teenagers described the entity as human shaped and six or seven feet tall. It had huge wings folded across its back. Its enormous eyes glowed like automobile reflectors. It was gray and walked on two legs. As they sped past in their automobile, Mothman spread its ‘bat-like’ wings and rose straight up into the air. According to the witnesses, the creature followed their car, travelling at 100 miles an hour, without ever flapping its wings. It squeaked like a large mouse. They only escaped because the creature turned away as they drew near to town. They could not help but notice that a large dog carcass that had previously been seen on the side of the road was now gone, perhaps taken by the creature, who, like the Chupacabras, became known for its taste for small animals. Keel describes one of his victims, a dog: ‘There was a very large, very neat hole in its side, and the animal’s heart was lying outside the body. It looked as if something chewed it out. There were no other marks on the body’ (266). Other than his victims, the Mothman never left behind any other physical evidence. The terror from the sky doesn’t even leave footprints. ■
Image courtesy of billy liar.
Gregory L Reece is an independent Alabama-based writer and scholar with special interests in new religious movements and cult beliefs. His books include UFO Religion, Elvis Religion, Creatures of the Night and Weird Science, of which this is an extract.
Corrales, Scott. (1997) Chupacabras and Other Mysteries. (Murfreesboro, TN, Greenleaf Publications)