MEXICO CITY (Reuter - May 10, 1996) - Is it a bat? Is it a witch? Is it from Mars?
This much is known: it is furry, has big bulbous eyes and sucks the blood of goats and other creatures. The mysterious vampire-like creature known as "Chupacabras" (goatsucker) has gripped the fevered imaginations of many Mexicans.
While government officials appeal for calm, enterprising trinket sellers have jumped on the bandwagon with Chupacabras T-shirts and key-rings in the northern city of Tijuana and are offering tours of sites allegedly linked to the creature.
Some say it is an extraterrestrial life form. Others say drought in Mexico's northern states has driven bats, wolves and coyotes to carry out the attacks to slake their thirst. Reports from at least nine of the 31 Mexican states tell of attacks on animals and one person by the fanged menace.
Witnesses say it sucks their blood until they die, leaving tell-tale puncture marks on the neck and other mutilations.
The designs on the Tijuana key-rings and T-shirts, taken from the accounts of witnesses who claim to have seen the creature, show a giant, furry winged rodent with staring eyes and razor-sharp teeth.
The attacks are not just on goats. Reports from remote rural regions list sheep, cows, horses, hens, pigs and rabbits among Chupacabra's victims.
On Thursday, May 9, in the town of Zapotal in southeastern Mexico, Violeta Colorado was jolted awake by the barking of her dogs. They had cornered some animal that had come into her yard. She could not see the animal, she said, but she heard it make a loud, unnerving hissing noise unlike anything she has heard before. The dogs kept it cornered for an hour, she said, but then it got away.
Only later, when the sun came up, did she find out that nine sheep had been killed in the pasture next to her house. None of the sheep had been eatern. Their throats had been punctured and their blood had been drained.
"I have never seen anything like it, ever," said Ramiro Santiago Lara, who has practiced veterinary medicine in the area near Zapotal for the last eight years. The normal predators of the region, including coyotes and jungle cats, rip their prey apart. These sheep had no wounds except the punctures. There was no blood left in them at all.
"It seems like a type of vampire," the veterinarian said.
Meanwhile, in the Veracruz region, 45 fighting cocks were reportedly found also completely drained of blood.
Only one man so far says he has been attacked. A shaken Angel Pulido, a campesino farmer from the village of La Alameda near Guadalajara in the western state of Jalisco, recently showed reporters two bite marks on the right arm he says he got from "a giant bat that looked like a witch."
"And you should know that my husband is very brave and isn't easily frightened," his wife, Irma Ponce, told Siglo XXI newspaper.
Maximiliano Esparza, governor of the northern state of Durango says -- possibly tongue-in-cheek -- he is considering offering a reward for the capture of the Chupacabra. Other officials are trying to dampen the wave of panic with a dose of skepticism.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Romarico Arroyo announced recently that there is no such thing as a Chupacabra and also took time to deny the presence of extraterrestrials in Mexico.
The health ministry of the northern state of Sinaloa had a different explanation, saying that the mysterious creature is most likely a 32-inch bat, sometimes known for blood-sucking, which lives in remote mountainous areas.
The state's medical services chief Carlos Vega said the bats are suffering from the drought, which has killed many of the animals they usually feed on, and are ranging further afield.
In Mexico City, Catholic Church officials have asked the public to remain calm, saying there is no proof that "the so-called Chupacabras is demonic or extraterrestrial."
Several political writers for major news magazines like "Siempre!" and "Quehacer Politico" have written scathing columns arguing that the only goatsucker is the disgraced former president Carlos Salinas, and that the current furor concerning the mutilations is simply a means of diverting attention from the country's economic crisis.
Meanwhile, in Tucson, Arizona, an evening news report on KGUN-TV Channel 9 described the early morning experiences of the Espinoza family on May 9. Either the father or older brother opened an entrance door around 2:00 a.m. and reportedly saw a bipedal creature 3 to 4 feet tall, with scaly skin, clawed hands, red eyes, and a row of spines from the skullcap and down the back.
This description, though unverified, corresponds well with numerous stories from Puerto Rico, where the Chupacabras phenomenon started more than a year ago.
The older Espinoza stated the creature "mumbled and gestured."
At about dawn, a seven-year-old boy in the same house said the creature stood on his bed and briefly on his chest. Both the older and younger Espinoza family members described a smell "like a wet dog."
The Espinoza family called 911, and the metropolitan Tucson police did respond. A search of the immediate neighborhood and questioning of residents turned up nothing.
In recent days, major stories on the Goat Sucker have appeared in newspapers across the U.S. as the mystery continues to unfold. While many theories have been offered and many assurances given, and while much derision has been heaped upon alleged witnesses, dead animals keep showing up without adequate explanation. ISCNI*Flash will continue to follow this story.
Original file name: CNI - Chupa in Mexico
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