Thursday, July 21, 2011

Creature of the Month - The Chupacabra by Nick Redfern

For years, controversial tales have surfaced from Puerto Rico – or to give it its correct title, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States - describing a killer-beast creeping around the landscape, while simultaneously plunging the population into states of deep fear and apprehension. The reason why is as simple as it is distinctly monstrous: the face of the creature is dominated by a pair of glowing red eyes, it has razor-style, claw-like appendages, vicious-looking teeth that could likely inflict some truly serious damage, sharp spikes running down its neck and spine, and even, on occasion, large membranous wings. On top of that, it thrives on blood. Puerto Rico, then, is home to a real-life vampire.

Its moniker is the Chupacabra, meaning Goat-Sucker – which is a reference to the fact that when the tales first surfaced, most of the animals slain by the blood-sucking nightmare were goats. That’s right: if you’re a goat, it most certainly does not pay to make Puerto Rico your home. It might not be too safe if you’re human either.

Much of the monstrous action is focused upon the Caribbean National Forest - El Yunque as it is known - which is an amazing sight to behold. Around 28,000 acres in size, and located in the rugged Sierra de Luquillo, which is approximately 40-kilometers southeast of the city of San Juan, it was named after the Indian spirit, Yuquiyu, and is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System.

More than 100-billion gallons of precipitation fall each year, creating the jungle-like ambience of lush foliage, sparkling leaves, spectacular waterfalls, shining wet rocks, and shadowy paths that really have to be seen up close and personal to be appreciated. The Forest contains rare wildlife, too, including the Puerto Rican Parrot, the Puerto Rican boa snake, a multitude of lizards, and crabs, not forgetting the famous coqui frog, so named after its strange and unique vocalizations.

As for the Chupacabra: well, its predations and appearance are as legendary as they are feared. And the stories coming from the locals are as notable as they are disturbing.

Some years ago, while on one of my now-many expeditions to Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to interview a woman named Norka, an elderly lady living in a truly beautiful home high in the El Yunque rainforest that one can only reach by successfully negotiating an infinitely complex series of treacherous roads, built perilously close to the edge of some very steep hills. Although the exact date escapes her, Norka was driving home one night in 1975 or 1976, when she was both startled and horrified by the shocking sight of a bizarre creature shambling across the road.

Norka described the animal as being approximately four feet in height, and having a monkey-like body that was covered in dark brown hair or fur, wings that were a cross between those of a bat and a bird, and glowing eyes that bulged alarmingly from a bat-style visage. Sharp claws flicked ominously in Norka’s direction. She could only sit and stare as the beast then turned its back on her and rose slowly into the sky. Since then, eerily similar encounters with such vile entities have haunted the terrified populace of Puerto Rico – and continue to do so.

As evidence of this, in 2004, I traveled to Puerto Rico with fellow monster-hunter, Jonathan Downes of the British-based Center for Fortean Zoology. During the course of our week-long expedition in search of the truth behind the beast, we had the opportunity to speak with numerous sources, including a rancher named Noel, who had an amazing account to relate.

Some months previously, he was awakened during the hours of darkness on one particular morning by the sound of his chickens that were practically screaming down the house. Much to his chagrin, however, Noel failed to get out of bed and waited until dawn broke to see what all the fuss had been about. He told us that he was horrified to find all of his prized birds dead. Not only were they dead: they had two small puncture wounds on their necks, and checks by a veterinarian friend demonstrated their bodies were missing significant amounts of blood.

But what made this particular case so intriguing and memorable was the fact that whatever had killed the chickens had first carefully and quietly opened the complex locks on each of the cages before evacuating them of blood. This suggested to Jon and me that a diabolically sophisticated degree of cunning, intelligence, and dexterity was at work. The Chupacabra, then, may be far more than just your average wild animal. So, with that in mind, precisely what is it?

Certainly, theories wildly abound with respect to the nature of the beast, with some researchers and witnesses suggesting that it is some form of giant-bat. Others prefer the theory that it has extraterrestrial origins. And a notably large body of people view the Chupacabra as a wholly supernatural beast. The most bizarre idea postulated, however, is that the Chupacabra is the creation of a top secret, genetic research laboratory hidden somewhere deep within Puerto Rico’s El Yunque rainforest.

Whichever theory may prove to be correct – and there may be other possibilities, too – of one chilling thing there seems little doubt: Puerto Rico has a monster in its midst.

Nick Redfern works full-time as an author, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. He writes regularly for UFO Magazine, Fate, Fortean Times, and Paranormal Magazine. His books include The Real Men in Black, The NASA Conspiracies, Contactees, and Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, all published by New Page Books. Nick has appeared on numerous television shows, including the BBC’s Out of this World; History Channel’s Monster Quest and UFO Hunters; National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive. He lives in Arlington, Texas and can be found online here.

Note that all pictures are copyright Nick Redfern.

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