Sometimes you read right past things that should make you cock your head to one side and back up.
“Chupacabra on the Loose in Tampa” struck Your Examiner as an ad for some bar down on the Bay until she thought about it again.
What the hell? The Gasparilla was last weekend.
A chupacabra – literally “goat sucker” – is a scaly, spikey, sometimes feathered and flying creature that attacks and sucks the blood of goats and other mammals.
More closely associated with the folklore of Puerto Rico and the quetzalcoatl, feathered Aztec snake god of Mexico, chupacabras have flown free in Florida for longer than you’d think it might take the University of Florida to collect a specimen.
Officially classed as a cryptid like the Bardin Booger, the chupacabra is assumed by the scientific community to be a hoax.
In spite of this Floridians and more recently Texans have been seeing them again.
Perhaps “seeing” is too strong a word
The first documented report of chupacabras in Florida comes from Sweetwater, a largely Hispanic community west of Miami.
On March 10, 1996, a Sweetwater woman told a local reporter that “an inhuman thing” crossed her property.
Two more reports soon followed about a creature roaming the neighborhood killing goats and chickens.
About four months later, still in Miami-Dade county, a mysterious beast that left the smell of sulfur in its wake began killing pets and trashed the paint job on someone’s fancy car.
Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, however, no chupacabra was captured or even actually seen – or at least there are no follow-up reports of a capture.
Closer to Greater Jacksonville, in Tampa, two men reported that a chupacabra had killed some chickens and claimed to see the creature on two different nights.
Chupcabra explanations in popular science & popular culture
Given Florida’s geography, it’s really not surprising that one more weird animal would climb out of the ocean onto one of our lovely beaches.
Folklorists suggest three possible theories:
- That chupacabras are actually Caribbean imports who stowed away on cargo ships like cane toads and brown rats.
- That the Jersey Devil – a flying, bipedal hooved cryptid native to the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey – retired, moved to Florida and changed its name.
- That chupacabras are just folklore.
From a cultural perspective, it’s certainly no mystery to Floridians that Hispanics brought their folklore with them.
More than just a dark ethnic in-joke, the myth and legend of the chupacabra generates a great deal of speculation on the Internet.
There are the citizen-science diagrams on sites like Perhapanauts.com.
And “The Chupacabra Home Page,” a handy repository for researchers, investigates all things chuapcabra – from claims that chupacabras are the Puerto Rican equivalent of Yetis to lyrics to the original “Chupacabra Song” to the chupacabra’s connection to Barry Manilow.
Whatever the case, it’s not surprising that in the aftermath of over 500 years of cultural assimilation some legends turn out to be true.
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OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years, most recently in Texas, is a successful grant writer, knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design and wants to work in the public sector. Contact: email@example.com