Between 2004 and 2014, I made nine trips to Puerto Rico, with one goal in mind. Namely, to try and resolve the mystery of its infamous cryptid. I’m talking, of course, about the Chupacabra. Or, as it’s also known, the Goat-Sucker – on account of its alleged liking for nothing less than the blood of goats. Chickens and pigs, too, but goats are to the Chupacabra what fish and chips are to me. But, does the Goat-Sucker really suck blood? That’s one of the most important questions that surround the issue of the island’s legendary monster. And it’s a question that I can answer.
On my first trip to Puerto Rico – in 2004, with a team from the SyFy Channel’s “Proof Positive” show – I interviewed a farmer who reportedly lost a large number of chickens to a Chupacabra late one night, several years earlier. Oh, and lest I forget, all the birds were drained of blood. How do I know that? Because that’s what the farmer told me. How did he know? Simple: the wounds, he said, resembled the attacks of a vampire of folklore and legend. So, the obvious assumption on his part was that the chickens had been emptied of the red stuff. The important word here is “assumption.”
The farmer’s line of thinking was that because there was a complete lack of blood at the scene, and a cursory study by him of several of the bodies revealed no blood around the wounds, the blood had to have been drained. One could, however, make a very good argument that the lack of blood – and particularly so near the surface of the slaughtered animals – was due to it having sunk to the lower parts of their bodies. The imagery provoked by those old Hammer Film Productions has certainly left its mark.
On one of my trips to Puerto Rico, a couple of people told me tales of 1990s-era chupacabra sightings in the Ceiba Forest, which is a small, wooded area dominated by mangrove trees and that is situated about five miles outside of Ceiba itself. The reports were scant in data and revolved around nighttime attacks on chickens and goats – and, of course, of the ubiquitous sucking of vast amounts of blood. The killings did not look like the work of a wild animal, however. Indeed, the chickens were not torn apart in the slightest, as one might well expect in a ferocious, wild dog attack. In fact, the only evidence of damage to the bodies was – wait for it, and take a deep, long breath – a pair of significantly sized holes in the necks of each and every chicken.
It’s important to note, however, that in this case I was able to absolutely confirm that no necropsy of the chickens was ever undertaken. Yet again, it was just the two wounds on the neck that provoked the rumors that the attacker was a deadly bloodsucker of the night. The list goes on. In September 1959, a groundbreaking paper was published by the acclaimed scientific journal, Nature. Its title was: “Searching for Interstellar Communications.” The authors were two physicists, Phillip Morrison and Giuseppe Conconi, both of Cornell University.
In essence, the paper was a study of how microwaves might be successfully used to locate alien intelligence, in other parts of the Universe. It had a great effect on one Frank Drake – a man who, after having carefully read the report, embarked on a life and career to search the Universe for aliens. Drake began his work at the West Virginia-based Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He was, without doubt, the star of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) conference that was held at the observatory in October 1961. Drake ultimately gravitated to Puerto Rico, home to the Arecibo Radio Telescope, of which he became the director.
Midway through the 1960s, something decidedly strange happened at the telescope, something that may well have a direct bearing upon the Chupacabra phenomenon. A guard reported, one day, seeing a curious character roaming around the edge of the installation. What made the man – if a man it was – so curious was his attire: a long, black cloak. The guard, apparently, had his own ideas on what he was seeing: one of the undead; a vampire. A report on the affair was prepared for Drake’s attention. That was far from being the end of the matter, however.
Forty-eight hours after the sighting, Drake said: “I really was forced to look into it…because a cow was found dead on a nearby farm, with all the blood drained from its body. The vampire rumor had already spread through the observatory staff, and now the cow incident whipped the fears of many people into a frenzy.” This 1960s-era case (which Drake described in his 1992 book, Is Anyone Out There?) is important because it demonstrates that rumors of blood-draining vampires on Puerto Rico predated the Chupacabra explosion of the 1990s by decades. In other words, the people of the island were – years earlier – primed to associate local, mysterious killings of animals with significant blood loss. And when the Chupacabra came along, it too got caught up in the mix.
Collectively, I spent a couple of months on Puerto Rico. While there, I spoke with a large number of veterinarians and police-officers, all of whom had some input on the matter of the Chupacabra attacks. None denied that something was responsible for the killings on Puerto Rico. Most suggested down-to-earth explanations, such as packs of wild dogs – which are certainly widespread on the island. Of all those I spoke with – even those who subscribed to the idea that the Chupacabra was a beast of literally monstrous proportions – not even one had ever come across a single case where it could conclusively be said that farm animals had been sucked dry of their blood. They had all heard the tales, as had I. But, I was never able to confirm anything and – more importantly – neither were they.
So, to answer the question posed in the first paragraph of this article: No, the Goat-Sucker does not suck blood. But, the belief and assumption that it does clearly outweighs the facts. I still think something unknown lurks on Puerto Rico – a real Chupacabra. But, a monster that lives on blood, and which it drains from the necks of its victims? Nope.