As a youth, my first introduction to the world of cryptids– namely, the Chupacabra– was in the form of a television series created for children, called ‘Lost Tapes,’ which aired on Animal Planet.
Most people tend to learn about these creatures by word-of-mouth, however, as far as cryptid lore goes—either that or one of the various extensive online cryptozoology databases. Cryptozoology is a pseudoscience that revolves around the study and exploration of extinct or mysterious creatures whose existences are often disputed.
These animals are frequently referred to as Cryptids.
One of the better-known cryptids recognized by our collective modern folklore is that of El Chupacabra. El Chupacabra has been around since March of 1995, dating back to its first witness. The first person to ever attest to having seen the creature which eventually evolved into the Chupacabra as we know it today was a woman by the name of Madelyne Tolentino. Tolentino resided in Puerto Rico at the time, which is where the creature was first spotted.**
Tolentino described, “…a bipedal creature, 4 to 5 feet tall with spikes down its back, long, thin arms and legs, and an alienlike oblong head with red or black eyes…” (source)
Over the years, however, witnesses all over the globe have claimed to have seen two versions of the elusive creature. The first is a creature more reptilian in appearance than the latter, with leathery greenish-grey skin and quills along its spine–sometimes even wings. The second and more common iteration of El Chupacabra is not unlike that of a canine, with a similar hairless quality as well as an accentuated ridged spine.
There have been hundreds of sightings of both kinds, if not more, mostly due to people mistaking stray dogs and coyotes for the blood-sucking creature.
The word ‘Chupacabra’ roughly translates to “goat sucker” in Spanish. ‘Chupas’ means ‘to suck’, and ‘cabras’ means ‘goats’. The name was derived from the mysterious creature’s vampiric reputation, as some of its first sightings were reported to have been connected to the murder of livestock across various regions. (Mainly goats amongst other small animals) The victimized animals were reported to have been drained of their blood, and sporting unusual wounds on their necks in the shape of a triangle. Finding such a trio of puncture wounds on killed animals said to have been drained by the Chupacabra, is common.
Thousands of animals have been reported as killed by this fleeting cryptid since 1995.
Witnesses have documented sightings in places ranging anywhere from Puerto Rico and Latin America to Maine.
Chupacabra in Pop-Culture
You may have even seen references to the Chupacabra yourself in films like Chupacabra: Dark Seas (John Shepphird) or even the 2014 comedy series, Mike Tyson Mysteries. The 1997 X- Files series also features a hunt for the chupacabra in its ‘El Mundo Gira’ episode. A few, amongst many pop-culture namesakes.
** Madelyne Tolentino, the original witness to the now-infamous cryptid, has since been accused of stealing her description of the beast from a 1995 film,
Species. In Benjamin Radford’s investigatory work, ‘Tracking the Chupacabra’, he states that, “…[the film’s alien creature]…The resemblance to the chupacabra was really impressive…the most important chupacabra description cannot be trusted…”
Many chupacabra sightings have also been revealed as the presence of hairless dogs or even coyotes, living with severe cases of mange, which sometimes share features that the cryptid in question has been known to possess. Some of the symptoms that these infected animals tend to have are a bad lingering odor, patchy fur, and even thickened skin.