Solving the Chupacabra Mystery


One of the first steps in this investigation was finding out what, exactly, people believed the chupacabra to be. Since no one is certain what the beast is, the issue became what people were reporting as chupacabra.

Having spent many years investigating mystery animals, I had a pretty good idea of what the “standard” chupacabra looked like. Famous eyewitness Madelyne Tolentino said the chupacabra she saw had dark eyes that went up the temples and spread around the sides; it was about four feet high, walked like a human on two legs, and had thin arms and legs, with three fingers and toes at the end of each limb. It had no ears or nose, but instead two small airholes, and long spikes down the creature’s back.

I discovered that, while this was the most common description, there were many variations. Depending on which book you read (or whose eyewitness account you believe) the chupacabra has either a “powerful tail” or it has no tail at all; it either spends most of its time flying in the night skies—or doesn’t, since it lacks wings. It might have three fingers on each hand, or four; it might have a row of distinctive spikes running down its back—or it might not. Its ears are either “big” or they are “small or absent.” At least one person suggested that the chupacabra had language skills and could understand spoken Spanish. A farmer named Rafael Moreno was concerned that a chupacabra had taken sexual liberties with his cows. (Loren Coleman, in his 2003 book Bigfoot!, included reports of Bigfoot raping cows as well.) Most of these descriptions were from Puerto Rico around 1995, but when the beast was later reported in other countries, it took on a very different form.

Investigating the chupacabra took several years, and by paying close attention to news stories about the vampire beast I was able to track down each new sighting immediately after it occurred. In the case of the most famous beast, the “Cuero chupacabra,” I was asked to be part of the History Channel television program MonsterQuest and flew to San Antonio, Texas, to examine the frozen monster. I spent about a week interviewing the chupacabra’s owner, Phylis Canion, and examining her creature. I live in the Southwestern United States, where several chupacabra reports appeared almost literally in my back yard.

In 2008 I conducted an extensive field expedition in search of the chupacabra. I studied the history of sightings, in order to find the most probable place in the world where chupacabra animals, if they exist, might still be living. I ruled out Puerto Rico, as no sightings had appeared there in many years; and reached a similar conclusion about Texas, since the recent sightings had been identified as dogs and coyotes. I concluded that the best place to find an extant population of chupacabras would be in the jungles of Nicaragua, near the San Juan River, on the border with Costa Rica. Two colleagues and I searched the rainforest for several days and hired an expert tracker to seek evidence of the beast.