While writing an Oz story that featured two characters who kept goats, I decided to stick in a brief appearance by a chupacabra. The name literally means “goat-sucker,” and they’re a sort of vampiric animal allegedly native to Central America that, well, sucks the blood out of goats. Legends of blood-sucking animals have been around for ages, and of course some such beasts are real, but the chupacabra specifically seems to have first surfaced in the mid-1990s. I think I first heard about it when people were discussing an X-Files episode that mentioned the legend. The earliest descriptions of the creature referred to it as a mostly bipedal animal with a somewhat kangaroo-like frame, a spiny back, and enormous eyes.
In fact, it sounds a lot like the alien/human hybrid in the movie Species, which came out in 1995.
Madelyne Tolentino of Puerto Rico, who first reported seeing the chupacabra, admitted to having seen the film shortly before that. That sort of thing is apparently pretty common. I remember when Penn and Teller did a Bullshit! episode about aliens, and they pointed out that a lot of the monsters people reported seeing looked and acted exactly like ones from recent fictional media. Mind you, I haven’t seen Species, but I don’t think the creature in the movie sucked blood from goats. I believe she mostly just had an urge to reproduce. As time went on, people began to report having captured chupacabras, but they generally turned out to be coyotes with mange. This led to somewhat of a shift in the general depiction of the monster from movie alien to mammalian.
Regardless, the goats that were said to be chupacabra victims were not missing unusual amounts of blood, and the tooth marks on their necks were probably just from run-of-the-mill predators. The truth may set you free, but it also ruins some people’s fun.
While on the subject, my mind goes to two references of sorts to the chupacabra legend on Futurama. The first is in the episode “I Second That Emotion,” in which there’s a monster in the sewers called El Chupanibre. “Nibre” doesn’t actually mean anything in Spanish, but it’s sort of a red herring because the crew initially thinks the monster is Nibbler. The actual Chubanibre is a large green creature that bears some resemblance to the original chupacabra description, at least insofar as the eyes and spiny back go.
While Bender flushes the monster into the sub-sewer, it shows up again in “Teenage Mutant Leela’s Hurdles.” The other such creature is the Bone Vampire in “Fry Am the Egg Man,” which Fry takes care of and names Mr. Peppy. Instead of sucking the blood out of livestock, this monster sucks out the bones and leaves everything else.