Hunting the Chupacabras

I was six years old, growing up in Puerto Rico, when the first sighting of the Chupacabras was reported in 1992. But reports really started taking off in 1995, when sightings began occurring all over Latin America and with more and more frequency in Puerto Rico. The entire island was obsessed with the Chupacabras, whether they believed in it or not. My grandfather and his friends started a “Chupacabras Society,” the point of which I’m still not entirely clear on. Numerous theories abounded: It was an alien. It was a government experiment gone very, very wrong. It was an extremely elaborate hoax. It was a Satanic cult killing all the animals. Clearly, there are holes in all of these, and the lack of a full explanation is what has kept the myth going for all these years.

Here is my rendition of a Chupacabras wearing a traditional Puerto Rican pava, in honor of his heritage.

It seems like the Chupacabras has been in the news a lot lately, what with supposed sightings in Maryland, Minnesota, and Texas. Almost of all the spotted creatures have been proven to be other animals via DNA tests, but along with the healthy skepticism, the American media also seems to be taking the whole thing as a big joke. Of course, there are a few who do take a more serious point of view, like this article on Discovery.com, which explains how the original definition of the Chupacabras has been thrown out the window and has become a catch-all term for unidentified creatures.

A few nights ago, I stumbled upon a show from circa 2001 called Monster Hunters. We were sitting on the couch talking about Chupacabras, when all of a sudden, the aforementioned Monster Hunters were on the screen discussing their trip to Puerto Rico on which they were going to figure out the mystery of the Chupacabras. Imagine my surprise, and what a freaky coincidence it was. But onwards! Although the segment was pretty hokey and the production values weren’t necessarily the highest, they did seem to be at least somewhat genuinely interested in figuring some stuff out.

The Hunters journey to Puerto Rico and meet with some locals, including the mayor of Canovanas, a small town in the north. They describe him as a self-modeled “Indiana Jones type,” and explain how he launched his own search for the Chupacabras, even starting a small task force to help him. Local policemen describe shooting at the monster and watching the bullets bounce off. Citizens are interviewed, and they all give their own renditions of the sighting story. Eventually, the Hunters get to El Yunque, the rain forest that the Taino Indians believed the gods lived on and where some sightings have occurred. Taino mythology is discussed as historical context, and sightings of UFOS in the forest are mentioned as a way to tie in the extraterrestrial theories behind the Chupacabras. There is a shot of some towers that look like they could belong to the government, and the theory of the creature escaping from one of their secret labs is presented. The Monster Hunters set up some video surveillance, and we never hear about this part of the plot again. I guess nothing showed up?

Somehow the Hunters get in touch with a clairvoyant, who tells them they should go the Arecibo Observatory (featured in the Jodie Foster vehicle Contact!), which also gives off some extraterrestrial vibes. Employees are interviewed, some believe and some don’t, and again, we are left without a discernible conclusion. At some point someone brings up the idea that the Chupacabras is actually an alien pet, a theory that I very much enjoy.

In the end, they go over the evidence and wonder what it could be. After all, with all the information they’ve found and dead animals they’ve seen, it has to be something, right? For all the cheesiness involved, it is nice to see that at least there’s still someone on American TV who feels ok with sincerely believing in the Chupacabras. But, for some reason, it is extremely hard to find information on Monster Hunters on the internet. Conspiracy?

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