A facinating book regarding the chupacabra in America.
Author Benjamin Radford
Published by University of New Mexico Press
I keep an ever evolving list of creatures that I would love to one day have as a pet or possible sidekick. The Quitxacotal is numeral Uno (who wouldn’t want a winged serpent God?) Second would be Bigfoot due to numerous viewings of the John Lithgow classic Harry and the Henderson’s. But first runner up is the one creature that might seem a little too creepy to keep around the house; it’s my very own Chupacabra. And not the North American one, I want the original Puerto Rican-winged spiked-back blood sucker itself.
Unlike most cryptozoological creatures, the Chupacabra is unique in that its existence began rather recently. Back in 1995 The X-Files were at the height of their popularity and it seemed like the paranormal was becoming more mainstream than ever before. And then a woman in Puerto Rico reported her experience with a creature unlike anything ever described. Her account became the most famous incident of Chupacabra lore involving the first ever sighting and detailed description of the beast. What followed her story was a hurricane of international interest in every purported sighting and ‘mysterious’ dead animal that the media could find.
What started in Puerto Rico quickly found a new home in South America and the American Southwest. Reports of dead animals with puncture marks suddenly started popping up all over the place and it seemed like a foregone conclusion that one day I might have a Chupacabra of my very own.
However, author Benjamin Radford isn’t going to make it easy for me to find one of the little goat suckers. His book Tracking the Chupacabra is by no means another collection of witness accounts and unsubstantiated facts. The author has not only gone on an expedition to find the elusive beast (complete with all the expected disappointment) but has researched just about every reported Chupacabra encounter with the journalistic zeal of Woodward and Bernstein. Now, in all fairness, Mr. Radford is the managing editor for the Skeptical Enquirer science magazine, so it should come as no shock that his book leans to his predisposed discipline. But after consuming the book I came to see that as much as I want a Chupacabra to exist, I need to check out the facts.
What does the movie Species have to do with the Chupacabra? Why is the Puerto Rican Chupacabra so different from the American version of the creature? Why did the Chupacabra turn up seemingly out of nowhere in 1995 with not a single sighing dating back any further? Is the Chupacabra a hybrid monster born out of anti-American ideology and the classic fears of vampirism? And most important of all the books questions is not whether or not the Chupacabra exists, but how poor the journalism then and now contributes to its very existence.
While I leave it up the reader to decide between what is fact and what is fiction, I’d be lying if I didn’t hope that Chupacabra’s are real.