Chupacabra (also Chupacabras /tʃupa'kabɾas/, from Spanish chupar: to suck, cabra: goat; goat sucker) is a legendary cryptid rumored to inhabit parts of the Americas. It is associated more recently with sightings of an allegedly unknown animal in Puerto Rico (where these sightings were first reported), Mexico, and the United States, especially in the latter's Latin American communities. The name comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock, especially goats. Physical descriptions of the creature vary. Eyewitness sightings have been claimed as early as 1990 in Puerto Rico, and have since been reported as far north as Maine, and as far south as Chile. It is supposedly a heavy creature, the size of a small bear, with a row of spines reaching from the neck to the base of the tail. Most biologists and wildlife management officials view the chupacabra as an urban legend.
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 July 2004, a rancher near San Antonio, Texas, killed a hairless dog-like creature, which was attacking his livestock. This animal, initially given the name the Elmendorf Beast, was later determined by DNA assay conducted at University of California, Davis to be a coyote with demodectic or sarcoptic mange. In October 2004, two more carcasses were found in the same area. Biologists in Texas examined samples from the two carcasses and determined they were also coyotes suffering from very severe cases of mange. In Coleman, Texas, a farmer named Reggie Lagow caught an animal in a trap he set up after the deaths of a number of his chickens and turkeys. The animal was described as resembling a mix of hairless dog, rat, and kangaroo. Lagow provided the animal to Texas Parks and Wildlife officials for identification, but Lagow reported in a September 17, 2006 phone interview with John Adolfi, founder of the Lost World Museum, that the "critter was caught on a Tuesday and thrown out in Thursday's trash.
In April 2006, MosNews reported that the chupacabra was spotted in Russia for the first time. Reports from Central Russia beginning in March 2005 tell of a beast that kills by the animals and sucks out their blood. Thirty-two turkeys were killed and drained overnight. Reports later came from neighboring villages when 30 sheep were killed and had their blood drained. Finally, eyewitnesses were able to describe the chupacabra. In May 2006, experts were determined to track the animal down.
In mid-August 2006, Michelle O'Donnell of Turner, Maine, described an "evil looking" rodent-like animal with fangs that had been found dead alongside a road. The animal was apparently struck by a car, and was unidentifiable. Photographs were taken and witness reports seem to be in relative agreement that the creature was canine in appearance, but in widely published photos seemed unlike any dog or wolf in the area. Photos from other angles seem to show a chow- or akita-mixed breed dog. It was reported that "the carcass was picked clean by vultures before experts could examine it". For years, residents of Maine have reported a mysterious creature and a string of dog maulings.
In May 2007, a series of reports on national Colombia news reported more than 300 dead sheep in the region of Boyaca, and the capture of a possible specimen to be analyzed by zoologists at Universidad Nacional of Colombia.
In August 2007, Phylis Canion found three animals in Cuero, Texas. She and her neighbors purported to have discovered three strange animal carcasses outside Canion's property. She took photographs of the carcasses and preserved the head of one in her freezer before turning it over for DNA analysis. Canion reported that nearly 30 chickens on her farm had been exsanguinated over a period of years, a factor which led her to connect the carcasses with the chupacabra legend. State Mammologist John Young estimated that the animal in Canion's pictures was a Gray Fox suffering from an extreme case of mange. In November 2007, biology researchers at Texas State University–San Marcos determined from DNA samples that the suspicious animal was merely a coyote.
On January 11, 2008, a sighting was reported at the province of Capiz in the Philippines. Some of the residents from the barangay believed that it was the chupacabra that killed eight chickens. The owner of the chickens saw a dog-like animal attacking his chickens. On August 8, 2008, a DeWitt County deputy, Brandon Riedel, filmed an unidentifiable animal along back roads near Cuero, Texas on his dashboard camera.The animal was about the size of a coyote but was hairless with a long snout, short front legs and long back legs. However, Reiter's boss, Sherrif Jode Zavesky, believes it may be the same species of coyote identified by Texas State University–San Marcos researchers in November 2007.
Another description of Chupacabra, although not as common, is described as a strange breed of wild dog. This form is mostly hairless, has a pronounced spinal ridge, unusually pronounced eye sockets, fangs, and claws. It is claimed that this breed might be an example of a dog-like reptile. Unlike conventional predators, the chupacabra is said to drain all of the animal's blood (and sometimes organs) through a single hole or two holes.
CNN's Ed Lavandera has described the Chupacabras as the "Bigfoot of Latino Culture" and has stated that "El Chupacabras also symbolizes the fear of something that doesn't exist". Following the incident in Cuero, Texas the popularity of the Chupacabras myth was receiving global attention. Phylis Clayton, who was responsible for capturing the alleged specimen, claimed that t-shirts highlighting the event were shipped to countries such as Italy, Guam, and Iraq . The publicity that Cuero received following this event has led to some suggesting changing the town's mascot. In July 2008, the MonsterQuest series on cable TV's History Channel featured the Texas carcases which turned out to be domestic dogs and coyotes.