News from Arizona
Hellmonkeys, Chupacabras Comes to the Sonoran Desert
May 30-June 5, 1996;
Goatsucker fears cause nationwide panic
The Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona; Sunday/12 May 1996:
1996 Cox News Service -
MEXICO CITY -- Officials say "goatsuckers" are just the product of
fertile imaginations, but tales of the bloodthirsty monsters are terror-
izing Mexico and gaining global fame.
Anxiety has swept Mexico as newspapers report dozens of sightings
and attacks by goatsuckers, which reportedly look like 3-foot rats with
wings and enormous teeth and suck the blood of livestock and humans.
"A lot of Mexicans believe in extraterrestrials, so that's what
they think they are," said Cristina Fernandez, a Mexico City resident.
So severe has panic become that Mexican officials warned last week
that important ecosystems are being threatened as rural farmers set fires
in caves to kill off goatsuckers, which they think are related to vampires.
So international has the goatsucker become that American humorist Dave
Barry put the creature in a recent column.
"It was first reported in Puerto Rico, where it is known as
'chupacabras,' which is Spanish for 'attorney,'" Barry quipped.
The Internet includes several goatsucker sites on the World Wide Web,
which detail factoids and sightings, one of the first being in Puerto Rico
But while many humans take goatsuckers seriously, Mexican officials
say they're a fantasy.
Environment Secretary Julia Carabias said this week that she rejects
the idea that a stalker of livestock and people "has anything to do with
strange organisms, much less vampires."
The Mexican scare started in April, when a teary-eyed Jauna Tizoc, a
21-year-old from the corn-farming village of Alfonso Calderon in northern
Sinaloa state, said she was attacked by a horrifying winged creature.
She showed tooth marks on her neck, and the interview was publicized
by Televisa, Mexico's major television network. "She said a beast with
horns attacked her, but that could be anything, like a bull," said
Desiderio Aguilar, director of Sinaloa's municipal police forces.
After the interview, anxiety set in. Peasants from all over Sinaloa, and
farmers from more than 10 Mexican states, reported that livestock,
especially goats, but also sheep and chickens, were attacked by other-
worldly animals that suck blood. "We have goatsucker psychosis," Aguilar
said. "People won't send their kids to school, farmers won't work at
night. It's a social and economic problem."
Indeed, so many Mexicans have reported seeing the goatsucker that two
Mexico City dailies this week published drawings of a winged rodent that
they said were based on multiple sightings of the animal.
Sinaloa state, at least, has lurched into action. The state government
put together a 15-person team of scientists and technicians, including a bat
specialist. They went out to the village where the goatsucker was sighted
by Tizoc. "We sent 50 police as protection because this kind of thing, as
you can imagine, is very scary," Aguilar said. Protected by officers, the
team staked out a farmyard where the goatsucker was believed to have attacked.
But in the dark hours before dawn it was dogs who came to prey on the live-
stock. The scientific team set the same trap a second time, just to be sure,
and once again dogs were caught. "I don't know about the rest of Mexico or
the rest of the world, but here the goatsuckers are just dogs," Aguilar said.
The Sinaloa snare wasn't widely publicized, so the Mexican media stillabound
with goatsucker stories. The creature was sighted in eight Mexican
states, according to the Mexico City daily Reforma. The Mexico City Times,
an English-language daily, reported this week that a nurse from the outskirts
of Mexico City was hospitalized with a severed arm and neighbors said she was
attacked by a goatsucker.