Whatever it is, it sounds macabre. You can almost hear it licking its chops with an evil purr. It seems made, too, for baring fangs: the mouth begins with a pucker but through two lip-smacks the lips draw back, and the tongue tip, which starts in an affricate, lashes back to a liquid. And surely there is something otherworldly about it – it sounds like a dark cousin of abracadabra. Or perhaps some Puerto Rican curse.
Well, it is a sort of curse in Puerto Rico, at least if you ask some people there: a curse of livestock. They find bunches of their creatures dead, drained of blood through puncture wounds. The culprit: the goat sucker, chupacabra – chupar means “suck” and cabra means “goat” (you may be reminded of capricorn, which is from Latin for “goat-horned”). Sightings crop up here and there, not just in Puerto Rico but in Texas, Maine, Russia, the Philippines, the National Enquirer… It looks like a mean hairless coyote, maybe (some dead animals found and reported in as examples turned out to be coyotes with nasty cases of mange), or else a reptilian being with a ridge of sharp spines down its back, a forked tongue, large fangs, a sulfuric smell, an unearthly screech, and perhaps basilisk-like eyes, and a tendency to saltation – jumping up to 20 feet. Well, anyway, whatever it is, it ain’t pleasant.
No actual specimen of this little vampiric demon has been caught and verified yet. But with a creature like this, that only strengthens its ability to terrify, for what is more frightening than the unkown? Especially an unknown that is sort of like a refugee from Jurassic Park with a taste for blood in large quantity. This isn’t like bigfoot; you’re not so likely to hear “Don’t go out; bigfoot might get you.” Bigfoot doesn’t have a reputation for this kind of nastiness. But kids in Puerto Rico and Texas run the risk of being terrified by the threat of chupacabra. Which, on reflection, might put them right off their Chupa Chups.
This isn’t a mythical beast of long standing, though, even if it seems born of ageless tradition. It was first reported within the last two decades (but its franchise spread quickly: soon after the first incidents, reports cropped up in ever widening circles – hmmmm – throughout Latin American and beyond). And the name, which may prima facie seem to have crawled forth from some mediaeval grimoire, was invented shortly thereafter by Silverio Pérez, a Puerto Rican comedian.