In October 2016, I wrote an article here at Mysterious Universe titled "When A Chupacabra Isn't A Chupacabra." It was an article which began as follows: "My fifth quest to uncover the truth of the Puerto Rican beast known as the Chupacabra was in late December 2008. It turned out to be a profitable trip. Pretty much as soon as I arrived, I learned that one particular part of San Juan – Rio Piedras – was living in what could only be termed a state of downright fear. For more than three weeks, there had been sightings, exclusively at night, of a large black cat creeping around the neighborhood. Around four feet long and muscular, it was believed to have killed and eaten at least fifteen pet cats in the area, savaged a sheep or several, and apparently terrified a handful of people who crossed paths with it in the backstreets of Rio Piedras, late on one particular Saturday night."
Even if you didn't see the original article, you can probably figure out where the story was going. As I quickly found out on that particular road-trip around the island, there were more than a few people who believed that the tales of what was referred to as a "black panther" were actually cover stories created by the authorities to hide a darker truth. Namely, that a Chupacabra (or, maybe, even even a pack pf them) had left the wilds of Puerto Rico behind and was now roaming around San Juan, which is Puerto Rico's capital. Whatever the truth of the matter, I found it very intriguing that sightings of a large cat lurking in Rio Piedras were becoming tied to the world of conspiracy-theorizing. The theories continued to circulate for a while - that is, until the killings stopped and people forgot about it all and moved on with their lives.
It's worth noting, though, that this is not the only occasion on which reports of what have become known as "Alien Big Cats" (or ABCs) have become tied to the controversy surrounding the Chupacabra. On my now ten trips to Puerto Rico I have heard rumors of criminals and drug-lords on the island keeping large/exotic cats as pets - as a kind of status symbol, I guess. In 2015, I was given a story of one such drug-lord keeping an ocelot - a wild cat found in Mexico, the United States, Central America, and South America. Supposedly, the guy bought the cat in 1994 - one year before the Chupacabra phenomenon took off on Puerto Rico.
On a slightly different track, I have heard almost endless numbers of stories of large cats - including leopards, a snow leopard and even two young tiger cubs - supposedly escaping from zoos and private enclosures on Puerto Rico. In such stories, the owners were fearful of letting the authorities know what had happened. This closely mirrors the rumors of such ABCs escaping from zoos in the U.K. and the government hiding the truth. It's clear to me that at least in some of these cases we're dealing with myth and folklore in the making. But, just maybe there is something to all this. Certainly, of the people who I have spoken to personally on the ABC angle, they all come across as regular people, with no agenda or axe to grind. All they wanted to do was share their stories.
Perhaps the most notable case that falls into the "Chupacabra or ABC?" category, and which I secured in 2010, revolved around a pair of lynxes seen in the El Yunque rain-forest in 2007. I have no idea how they got there. And neither did the store-owner who saw them. They did nothing but stare at the startled man for a few moments and then vanished into the depths of the rain-forest. The link immediately above tells of an escaped lynx in the U.K.
Of course, none of this definitively proves that some Chupacabra attacks were really the work of out of place large cats. But, if nothing else, it's definitive food for thought.