If there is a legend that stands out as one of the most enigmatic, as well as exotic, it will most likely be that of the dreaded monster of Hispanic and Caribbean folklore known as El Chupacabra, or The Goat Sucker. With variations on the name, such as Chupa and El Vampiro de Moca, this creature inhabits the mystic realms of the netherworld for most, but for others, however, the Chupacabra is as real as any other animal on earth. The Chupacabra, like many other creatures specific to a particular region or culture, such as the Jersey Devil of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, or the Mothman of Point Pleasant, Virginia, or even more obscure monsters such as Wisconsin’s Bray Road Werewolf, Massachusetts’ Dover Demon, or the Thunderbird from America’s south-west, the Chupacabra is specifically relevant amongst South American nations and Floridians too in recent years. Though the original sightings were reported in Puerto Rico, Chile, Guatemala and Mexico, it has also been spotted in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida and even as far away as Pollok, Texas, Klamath Falls, Oregon and the suburbs of Maine and New York City — But what is it?
Thought by some to be related to the Jersey Devil, the Chupacabra is said to resemble a gargoyle or chimera of French antiquity, which mirrors a quasi-build of a simian, or kangaroo with reptile features, and stands about 3 to 5-feet tall and having glowing red or yellow eyes. Some variations have it as sporting bat-like wings, and sometimes with spikes on its back or even covered in feathers, so it’s no wonder that such a creature would strike so much fear in its witnesses. Moreover, because this creature seems to enjoy killing goats, chickens, cows, horses, cats and dogs; leaving shredded and mutilated remains, which are almost always drained of their blood, only makes the mystery far more dubious to modern scientists.
Of the main theories attached to Chupacabra lore run from alien or extraterrestrial creatures, as UFOs have often been seen in conjunction with animal mutilations where the Chupacabra is suspected, to these creatures being demonic in nature, where someone had summoned the monster from the depths of hell itself. More recent theories of the Chupacabra is that it is a laboratory experiment gone terribly wrong, or an escaped life-form, the result of a cloning experiment by the military and even a unknown animal hybrid yet to be discovered. Whatever the truth is, however, it has become a staple of Florida folklore too. Though there is little concrete evidence existing about the Chupacabra, a recent rash of sightings, and even the capture of a dead animal of unknown origin has raised many eyebrows in the scientific community. This type of creature, discovered in both Texas and Florida, have yielded some interesting facts, where myocardial-DNA analysis of remaining tissue from these dead creatures, thought to be the legendary Chupacabra, may indicate that it might be a hybrid of wolf and coyote, or even a combination of otherwise un-cataloged animals. And, though little other evidence has been found to substantiate this strange creature’s existence, the questions still rest — What is the Chupacabra, and when did it first arrive to the Sunshine State?
*The following is a transcript of a Q&A session taken from a Twitter chat earlier this year. Though this chat session, which was conducted by one of my publishing companies; Pineapple Press, Inc. loosely covers the topic in a more scientific light than simply from a folkloric perspective, it serves as a possible explanation of alleged sightings and K-9-like cadavers that have been recovered in Florida, Texas and Missouri in the past 8 years.
Question & Answer Session
Q: What exactly is a Chupacabra, really?
A: The Chupacabra is now believed by many to be of a genus of the ‘Perro sin pelo del Peru’ or the ‘Al’co Calato,’ which is a hairless dog. It may also be a hybrid of K-9 and something yet unknown.
Q: Does this dog account for all the sightings?
A: No, this is only one theory, as there may be several separate possible species.
Q: What do you mean by species?
A: The first might be the ‘Inca Orchid K-9’ originating from Peru; discovered by Spanish invaders in the early 1500’s. It stands 20-26 inches and weighs about 26-50 pounds. It’s known to have bad skin and elongated teeth. The second belief is that it’s a cross-breed of several animals: feral dogs, coyotes, foxes and/or wolves with bad mange. Their teeth appear longer in most cases, due to receding gums. In short, their genetics, though pliable to inter-breed, create defects nonetheless.
Q: Why would it look like this?
A: In many cases, within all life forms, over breeding, cross-species breeding (which can occur in some cases) might create problems. Some dogs may have several deficiencies to its breed, skin, intestinal, visual through over breeding. It may be the case here.
Q: What about the more monstrous descriptions described over the years?
A: As with many legends, people can exaggerate because they’re not sure what they saw. What is ordinary in day might be terrifying at night. In many cases, witnesses only catch a glimpse at best. Most of the time, it’s the animal remains that make more speculation.
Q: Explain this a little more.
A: Well, if you find your livestock killed, with copious amounts of blood missing, one’s imagination wonders. Vampires, UFOs, anything goes.
Q: What about those things? Are they possible explanations?
A: Anything’s possible I suppose, but I tend to have more reasonable ideas about this. Alien experimentation is still considered however. Some researchers feel there is a correlation betwixt UFO activity and animal killings, though I feel the majority are separate accounts.
Q: Is Florida the state for Chupacabras?
A: No, not at all. Many accounts have been reported in Latin countries, though I think Florida was the first to host this creature in the U.S. Kentucky, Texas, Alabama, S. Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri and New Mexico and even as far as New York are among the states visited by this creature.
Q: Do you think there are other ‘things’ that might also be considered a Chupacabra?
A: Yes, absolutely. The first thing that comes to mind is the Montauk Monster, which was found a few years ago. This thing is likely a species of K-9, but with strange features. To date, no one has found a definite answer for all of them. There have been more than a dozen of these things found washed-up near a research facility on Plum Island. DNA has not yet been reported.
Q: Can you elaborate on this?
A: The initial discovery looked a lot like a dog in design, but with abnormalities. The paws were bizarre, the face was beaklike and so forth. Though such features could have been the result of decomposition, the bone structure was odd. Moreover, the corpses vanish. If that’s not enough, remains of these creatures were found near a known government genetic research facility. Did an experiment escape?
Q: Do you think we will see more of these creatures in the future?
A: I believe so. I also believe that scientists will find an answer to these animals. They simply need to be found captive and researched. Various Montauk-like creatures have been found in Long island, and as far as Canada, so they’re moving. This is a real thing.
Q: Do you think the Chupacabra and the Montauk Monster is the same thing?
A: Genetically, no, but I’m a psychologist, not a biologist or zoologist. These things are unknown to science as of yet. We need to keep in mind that science is just not interested in these things. They’re afraid they will be ridiculed. They need to change. Scientists and researchers will have to have one of these things brought to them personally, and with every news service involved. Don’t hold your breath though. Admitting to something like this will be almost impossible for this community.
Q: Finally, what would you suggest for us to do if we actually see one of these creatures?
A: Firstly, try not to panic. If at all possible, try to get a photo of it. If you can’t do that, draw a picture of it as soon as you can. Secondly, remember the spot you saw it. Try to find a cryptozoologist, someone with experience in animals or a naturalist to help you. Make plaster casts if there are tracks left behind, and photograph the area. Make a note of your findings. If there is a body, notify the Freshwater Game & Preserve or similar authority of the find. If you don’t trust them, you can take it and freeze it. Save it until you find someone willing to investigate it further with an open mind. I would also notify any college zoology/biology dept.
You should also email Loren Coleman, a long-time cryptozoologist for further inquiry. http://www.lorencoleman.com/
*The following listings are from my collection of case files used form my book: Chronicles of the Strange and Uncanny in Florida. Each case signifies a particular account with what we call as ‘Chupacabra’ though a few may have been the result of another animal, yet unidentified. Though speculative, we cannot rule out such events as being associated to this creature Hispanic folklore.
“The Danenburg Monster”
Titusville, 1960 — 67
More than 40 years before the now famous Teide Carballo Chupacabra Case of 1996 occurred in south Florida, a strange event was taking place in the barren, swampy woodlands of Titusville, and around the newly-built Kennedy Space Center. It was a new and adventurous time for Titusville and nearby Cocoa Beach, as the ‘Great Space Race’ was at full speed, and national pride was all the rage. The small towns were rife with space-themed motels, gift shops and hamburger stands that featured ‘Moon Burgers’ and ‘Green Milk Shakes,’ and when children dressed like astronauts. For the most part, it was an innocent time and people were relatively content, but when a series of bizarre animal killings took place on the old Danenburg farm and mobile home community, located near the National Seashore, people began to worry. Though the police tried to console the town’s people that the killings were most likely from feral dogs, the animal body-count continued. From around February 12, 1960 to October, 1967, pigs, dogs, cats and even chickens were found drained of their blood throughout the area, with no explanation offered.
Before NASA bought all 40 acres of the Danenburg land to use as a housing development for their astronauts and personnel in 1964, it was an orange orchard and livestock farm owned by Coleridge and Rose Danenburg and their children. They had a Cracker-style house, and small barn, as well as about 20 small mobile homes and cottages they rented out to locals and vacationers they called ‘Snow-Birds’ from the north, and even had a small convenience store, all located in a thick wooded forest. The events all started when men from the nearby hunter-trapper community called The Wisconsin Village found their pigs dead in their pens. Each of the 8 pigs was drained of its blood, with only small holes found at the base and waddle of their necks. The men had never seen anything like this, and a hunting part was formed. They searched day and night for whatever it was that killed their pigs, but found nothing. Several days later, numerous cats and a dog were found in the same condition early in the morning by residents of the mobile home park. When the event was investigated further, the official report listed the animal killings as animal-related, where the most likely culprit was a pack of wild dogs.
In 1964; while a film called: Frankenstein meets the Space Monster was being shot in Titusville, Cocoa Beach and in Puerto Rico, staring James Karen and Nancy Marshal, various weird events took place on and around the on-location sets near the old Danenburg farm. Though the incidents were attracting less publicity than in the years earlier, the fact that more animals were found with their necks broken and drained of their blood made a few locals suspect vampires to be the cause, even in space-age Florida! By the early 1970s the animal killings were happening with much less incidence, though on occasion, a dog or cat might turn up in the same fashion on occasion — the monster seemed to disappear.
Today, the Danenburg land no longer houses NASA personnel, nor orange groves or anything for that matter. The area is used as a hiking trail and nature reserve, catering only to northern visitors and nature buffs. There are no structures to speak of, and the only notable wildlife remaining is the successors of the original Danenburg pigs, which are now as feral as any wild boar could be. Whether or not the animal killings were from a Chupacabra is anyone’s guess, but whatever creature drained the blood from those hapless animals was certainly unlike any predator known to local authorities, and is remarkably similar to suspected Chupacabra-related killings in recent history. Because only blood was taken, and the carcasses were not eaten creates the greatest mystery of all, as no wild dog or large cat would do this, so who or what was the culprit?
If visiting the old Danenburg farm and homestead location, which is located near the Cape Canaveral Seashore on State Road 402, be sure to take a casual walk around what was once busy with a fairly active community of not-so long ago. Enjoy the sights, but try to imagine the strange creature that once lurked in this green paradise, and its even-stranger fangs that were sinking into those helpless animals, and wonder if such a creature still exists there, hiding, but ready to pounce. Though this creature, whatever it was is most likely long-gone, we might consider that the Danenburg Monster was in fact the very first appearance of the now infamous Chupacabra. Perhaps, as a friend conjectured, maybe just such a creature was somehow brought to Florida when the film crew from that amusing B-Movie was traveling from Puerto Rico to our east coast — Who knows? Perhaps there’s more than myth to this creature after all. Sources: Interviews with Elias Donning and Janet McLaughlin, and Earthfiles — www.earthfiles.com
“The Miami Chupacabra Enigma”
Sweetwater, March 10 – 23, 1996
It was late day when a Sweetwater resident named Teide Carballo caught a glimpse of a bizarre shape running across her lawn and behind some bushes. The event would ignite a rash of local sightings that would put Florida on the map of the strange and uncanny. The very next evening, a resident in Little Havana discovered several of his chickens dead in their cage. The shocked witness noticed a dark figure, like that of an oddly-shaped boy run by, and then lunge behind some trees. After investigating the dead chickens, he discovered that their bodies were almost completely drained of their blood, yet none of their tissue was consumed. This was strange, as no animal he knew would behave in such a manner. After examining the crime scene further, the witness found several foot, or paw prints he couldn’t identify. Each print measured around 5-by-4 inches, and apparently had only 3-toes per foot, which seemingly walked on only 2 legs. By the impression of these footprints, the witness estimated that the weight of the creature mush have been at least 35 to 55 pounds — But what could it have it been?
During the late night of March 23, another Sweetwater resident, a woman named Olimpia Grovea noticed that her pet goats were not peeping in her window for their breakfast, so she went out to her backyard to see where they were. When she arrived to their open-pen, she discovered her 2 beloved goats dead on the hay; their blood drained from them. After a closer inspection of the pen and adjacent cages, the woman found over 25 of her chickens in the same manner. Within moments, her next-door neighbor, a woman named Barbara Martinez, who is a collector of exotic birds, ran over to say that something had killed close to 40 of her caged birds; their blood drained in the very same way as the others. The police were notified, and reports made, but again, no culprit was apprehended, and the Chupacabra craze continued.
“The Chupacabra’s Last Hurrah…Or was it?”
Hialeah Gardens, May 2, 1996
In what is considered to be one of the last Chupacabra attacks recorded in Florida history took place during the night, when more than a dozen sheep and goats belonging to Mr. Rafael Moreno were found slaughtered in a field. The animals were found in a similar fashion, the blood drained, with small, oddly-shaped holes found around the neck and back regions. Although a thorough police investigation was conducted, and many animal tracks were discovered around the crime scene, none of the paw-like prints were validated because they were made in muddy ground, which made them all appear alike. Moreover, because the police simply did not believe in such a creature, further investigation was not deemed necessary, as the official report claimed feral dogs were responsible. For Mr. Moreno and his immediate community, however, the monster was very real.
Though the Hialeah Chupacabra Case came and went, and the majority of south Florida communities simply gave-in to the media banter that this creature was nothing more than a myth, and the attacks committed by explainable sources, the events continued nonetheless — even if those attacks were seen from a completely new point-of-view.
The Miami Herald (March 12, 1996)
Florida Today News, (July, 1996)
Earthfiles — www. earthfiles.com
Personal interview with A. W. Tuttle, Polk County, (2009).
These websites offer good reviews and photo slideshows of the creature thought of as the Chupacabra.