Chupacabras

In March 1995, a strange occurrence transpired on the island of Puerto Rico.

Residents found eight sheep dead. Eight is not an unprecedented number of animals to perish at the same time, but it’s certainly strange. Odder still, however, was the state of the sheep. They had been drained of all their blood.

Authorities had no solid leads. They did not suspect a human act. Some figured a group of predators, such as foxes, might have performed the deed. To others, these killings harked back to a strange series of crimes 20 years prior, in which farm animals started to show up dying with small circular holes and the blood drained from them.

Puerto Rico's location in the Caribbean

August of the same year intensified the mystery.

Near the city of Canóvanas, approximately 150 farm animals and pets turned up dead. Many of the carcasses featured tiny, round incisions and were drained of blood. A good number of the animals were goats, so the locals dubbed the denizen responsible as the “goat sucker.”

In Spanish, that phrase is Chupacabra.

Over the ensuing months, as many as 30 individuals claimed to have seen el chupacabra. They asserted it could fly, as it came from above the treetops to catch its meals. In November, a woman provided a detailed description of an encounter she had with the creature. She claimed it had large, red eyes and hairy arms. The goat sucker had crashed through a window in her house, where it attacked a child’s stuffed animal, before defenestrating itself. The chupacabra left a trail of slime and a piece of rotting meat on the windowsill.

By the end of 1995, over a thousand animal deaths fit the chupacabra pattern. Something rancid was indeed in the state of Puerto Rico (it’s a Shakespeare reference; I know Puerto Rico isn’t a state. Please don’t message me).

An early artist composite of the chupacabra based on eyewitness accounts

As news of the bizarre happenings in Puerto Rico spread, news of similar incidents started to appear across the region. Humans reported livestock dead, drained of all blood, across Latin America and the United States. Many sightings in Mexico and the southwestern portions of the United States gave the creature a more canine appearance than the above composite from Puerto Rico.

Eyewitness accounts can be filled with slight errors, especially during fleeting meetings and novel phenomena. One thing was certain, however: something was out there killing animals and leaving them without blood.

Finally, in January 1997, we received some clarity on the situation.

Famed researcher Fox William Mulder and scientist Dana Scully encountered el chupacabra near Fresno, California. The FBI Agents had been dispatched to investigate the strange death of a woman. The locals feared the chupacabra had either started killing humans, in addition to animals, or had somehow unwittingly caused deaths. During the investigation, Mulder and Scully uncovered a connection to a fungus, called Aspergillus.

Could a fungal infection be the root cause of the chupacabra? It would not be unique. A well-known malady in the insect world is called the Zombie Fungus. The fungus inhabits the body of an insect, eats the brain, and controls the body. Perhaps the chupacabra’s varying appearances to different witnesses stem from the fact that it’s not a single species, but instead a body taken over by a parasitic fungus?

Unfortunately, Mulder and Scully were unable to procure footage or a specimen of the chupacabra. Still, their sterling reputations added a lot of weight to the existence of these creatures. Today, most of the world recognizes the chupacabra as a non-cryptid.

Through the years, various ranchers claimed to have ensnared el chupacabra within coyote traps. Most of these captures turn out to be canids with mange, though they do look very odd. To date, no sure-fire specimen has reached the hands of biologists. However, livestock across the world continue to turn up with weird little holes in their necks, having lost all their lifeblood.

Scientists across the globe persist in the search for the chupacabra or its variants. They can hide from the long lens of biology for a while, but, eventually, these goat suckers will be forced into the light! Check the Further Reading and Exploration Section below for some footage that some presume is authentic.

Purported image of chupacabra
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