Now, we reach the 4th and final article on mysterious photos. This is a very interesting one, as it demonstrates something highly strange: somehow, animals have an uncanny knack of exiting their normal environments and popping up in the weirdest, and furthest away, places. I've been on many expeditions to Puerto Rico in search of the Chupacabra, and I've seen a lot and done a lot there, too. I have to say, though, it was a while before I came across a Cotton-Top Tamarin, a small monkey that is native to Colombia, South America! It takes its name from the mane of white hair that dominates its head. The location of the little find was Ponce, the second biggest city on Puerto Rico – next to San Juan, of course. A bustling metropolis, Ponce has origins that date back to the 16th century when the Taino tribe held sway over the area – although not for long. After the Spanish warrior-explorer Juan Ponce de Leon reached Puerto Rico in 1508, the countdown to conquest was well and truly on. Sadly, the all too trusting Taino people fell victim to the manipulative, power-hungry Spaniards and in no time at all the old days were gone. Both a new age and a new city were destined to rise up. And they did.
My photo of the friendly Tamarin as it appears in my "Chupacabra Road Trip" book
While Ponce is not known for its repeated sightings of the chupacabra, in 1992, a spate of animal killings occurred in the suburbs of the city that suggested the Moca Vampire had moved on to pastures new. In other words, animals – cats, dogs, chickens, and pigs – were found drained of the red stuff, The Strain-style, no less. Since the killings predated - by a couple of years - the 1995 surfacing of the chupacabra, the matter did not get the publicity that it would otherwise have very likely achieved a few years later. Admittedly, finding a Cotton-Top Tamarin was not quite as exciting as finding a rampaging Chupacabra, but the fact is that there should not be any Cotton-Top Tamarins living wild, anywhere on Puerto Rico. Incredibly, however, that seemed to be exactly what was going on. Needless to say, no-one could mistake this little creature for a marauding, vampire-like beast, but its presence did bolster my theory that there were more than a few out-of-place animals roaming around on Puerto Rico. And there had been for a long time, too.
The little creature was quite tame and lived in a large structure that allowed it to play all day and it slept in the family's home during the night. Indeed, its owner, Benigno, said it was quite friendly. It was. I asked Benigno where he got the monkey from. Interestingly, he said it just strolled into his property one day, sat around, played with his family and - as a result - decided not to leave. So, we have a strange situation: a very out of place monkey on an island where the Chupacabra lives. Time and time again, I have heard that Puerto Rico is pretty much bare of wild animals, apart from cows, pigs, goats, chickens, etc. The monkey proved otherwise. It led me to believe that the stories of "alien big cats" on the island (owned by drug-dealers, allegedly), of escaped monitor-lizards, and even of multiple peacock escapes from private areas, were all valid. None of this confirms that there really are Chupacabras on Puerto Rico. What it does show, however, is that Puerto Rico is home to a lot of animals that should not be on the island. And, of course, that just might mean the Chupacabra, too.