El Chupacabra: The Legend Which Emerged in Puerto Rico and Stormed the World

Chupacabra illustration by Jeff Carter
An artist's rendition of the cryptid known as the chupacabra. (Image credit: Jeff Carter / Wikimedia Commons)

The Chupacabra is a cryptid most commonly associated with Latin America, and indeed, the origin of its sightings can be traced back there. However, as the mania surrounding this fearsome creature spread in the latter half of the twentieth century, Chupacabra sightings were reported all across the globe. Opinions as to the reality of the beast are heavily divided: some regard it as an absurd urban legend, whilst others live in fear of its ferocious attacks. So, where did the story of the Chupacabra originate?

A history of Chupacabra sightings

During the mid-nineteen-seventies, Puerto Rico was allegedly in the grip of a malevolent beast.

One of the earliest reports was in 1975, and came from the town of Moca, where dead animals were found with all blood drained from their body, and three mysterious puncture wounds on the chest.1

Experts at the time could not identify the puncture wounds as being of any known animal. Thus, reports of the “Vampiro de Moca” raged wildly in the media. However, such cases were few in number and the mysterious creature was regarded as bizarre, but ultimately little more than a localised curiosity, for many years.2

Vampiro de Moca
The “Vampiro de Moca” is widely recognised as the first reported incident of the Chupacabra. The story appears here in the El Vocero newspaper, on 31 July 1975.

In 1995, all that changed. In the town of Canovanas in Puerto Rico, 150 farm animals and pets were slaughtered in a single night. International news outlets were littered with the bloodied imagery of mutilated animals. Many initially thought it might have been the actions of a Satanic cult. Thirty witnesses begged to differ. Each described a creature having swooped down from the sky to perform the massacre. 3

After this, the attacks became more frequent – hundreds more animals were butchered in the same way.

By the end of the year, the beast was believed to have been responsible for more than a thousand animal deaths. More witnesses started to come forward, describing a four to five foot tall monkey-like creature with large oval red eyes, a spiny back and a serpentine tongue. Occasionally, it was described as having wings. Needing a name for this horrific beast, the Puerto Rican commentator Silverio Pérez coined the term Chupacabra, meaning “goat sucker”. Yet, others saw something more sinister in the creature’s actions. Many Puerto Ricans believed – and believe still – that the creature was the monstrous and Frankenstein-ish creation of the United States’ government. 4

With Puerto Rico experiencing a non-stop deluge of Chupacabra attacks, the attention of paranormal investigators was caught. Paranormal researcher Mark Davenport and video producer Joe Palermo were on the island at the time filming a documentary. They have described how the strange animal deaths were a daily occurrence, and how local people took the attacks very seriously.

“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.” 5

Sightings of Chupacabra go global

One year after Puetro Rico reported a spate of mass attacks, in 1996, the Chupacabra started to travel.

In the USA, it was first reported to have visited the state of Florida. In a rural area of northwest Miami, forty animals were found dead, drained of blood and with the characteristic three puncture wounds on the chest. In the same year, a goat was found dead in southern Texas in the same manner. 6

Reports of the Chupacabra also started to come from Argentina, Chile, Spain, Brazil and even as far as Ukraine. What had started in a small town in Puerto Rico in 1975, was, by the turn of the century, a global pandemic.7

What does the Chupacabra look like?

During the Chupacabra’s spread, however, reports of its appearance began to vary.

At first the beast had been described as being monkey-like, with red eyes. Yet, as reports travelled, the mysterious beast began to be described as something akin to a mangy dog. The following video, filmed from a helicopter, alleges to show a dog-like Chupacabra running along Slaughter Beach, in Delaware.

Understandably, it is easy to dismiss such sightings as simply being diseased wild dogs, which prey on domesticated animals as they are easier to hunt than wild ones. With the Chupacabra phenomenon verging on mania in recent years, such videos are more likely wishful thinking than actual evidence.

Yet, this is but one of the many aspects of the Chupacabra legend. Some videos have surfaced which appear to depict something far stranger, and quite possibly humanoid.

Although its authenticity is highly questionable, many have described this as a Chupacabra.

Such reports of Chupacabra push the boundaries of what we are willing to accept as “supernatural”. Many images, supposedly taken by those who have encountered this strange beast, even suggest an extraterrestrial element.

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Whilst some reports of Chupacabra are compelling, such as the mass overnight animal slaughter in 1995, it seems that it is difficult to capture equally persuasive evidence on camera. Photos and videos are overwhelmingly blurry or unbelievable, or both. Regardless, with reports still flooding in after decades, the mystery of the Chupacabra persists.

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About Erik 33 Articles
A life-long dabbler in the paranormal, Erik researches other-worldly phenomena to sate his curiosity. A habitual fence-sitter, he is of the opinion that only through science can the reality of the paranormal be confirmed. Some of Erik's main interests are demonic possession, occult groups and the possibility of parallel dimensions.