Lately, there’s been a flurry of Chupacabra-related news coming out of Bridgeport, TX, a burg of 5,800 inhabitants 45 miles from Fort Worth that, up until this point, was known chiefly as the site where a toll bridge was built across the Trinity River in 1860 to facilitate the St. Louis-to-San Francisco stagecoach route. But forget about that, thanks to the discovery in January on a local golf course of a peculiarly hairless, pointy-snouted, sharp-toothed animal carcass that the local newspaper, the Wise County Messenger, described as an “alleged chupacabra.” The Messenger went on to quote the discoverer, one Tony Potter:
“This is a weird little critter,” Potter said. “This is not a coyote. This is not a dog.” He considered that it might be a hairless raccoon, but it bears little resemblance. Potter pointed out that despite the lack of hair the animal does not have any lesions indicative of mange to explain the hair loss. He showed the animal to several people in town and took it to a veterinarian in Bridgeport, but no one was able to identify the species.
We had hopes that this find might actually be tangible evidence of the apocryphal goat-sucking predator that first became an object of fear and fascination in Puerto Rico, Mexico and the southwestern U.S. in the mid-1990s. But that optimism was dashed, in short order, by a subsequent report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that state wildlife biologist Jennifer Barrow had concluded — based on examination of the skull and feet — that the purported chupacabra was, in fact, a raccoon. The creature’s hairlessness, however, was not easily explainable, since it had no signs of mange or other illness. Barrow hypothesized that the, er… raccoonacabra had fallen into a nearby lake and drowned, and that the cold water somehow caused the fur to fall off.
True, that vague explanation sounds suspiciously like a government misinformation campaign, but we’ll accept it for now. Bridgeport nevertheless, is reveling in its newfound international notoriety (Google reveals that the incident prompted about two dozen articles on Spanish-language websites as far away as Peru). In addition to the obligatory souvenir t-shirts, a local veterinary clinic put up a roadside sign message offering to give vaccinations to chupacabras.
Paranatural: Chupacabra premieres on Tuesday, February 23 at 9P et/pt.