What is a chupacabra (or chupacabras)?
From Spanish, the word means “goat sucker” as they are believed to suck the blood of goats (and other farm animals) in a vampiric fashion. Chupacabras are a relatively recent piece of folklore, with reports from farmers in Puerto Rico of cattle being killed by a vampiric creature originating in the 1970s, with the first “official” case attributed to the chupacabra occurring in 1995. chupa is set in 1996, which fits with the idea that this could be the time of the peak of US government interest in the creatures.
In the film, the creatures are referred to as “chupacabras” – that was the original name (supposedly coined by Puerto Rican comedian Silverio Pérez) – which later became regularized to chupacabra.
Chupacabras are sometimes described as looking like dogs with red eyes and fangs (and in fact some suggest that chupacabras, especially those seen, are actually mangy coyotes). Other descriptions give them scaly skin, an alien appearance, and a long tail with spikes on it, and suggest they are the size of a small bear. The book Chupacabra Tracking by Benjamin Radford, suggests that the eyewitness who described the chupacabra after the cattle were killed in Puerto Rico was massively influenced by the film Species, with its description making the main character, Sil. Radford felt that these serious investigations were totally flawed about its existence as a true species.
All of this ultimately gives a lot of leeway for on-screen representation. Chupa looks quite like a dog (and a bit like a cat) and has fangs and a tail. But he is much cuter than the mythical versions. He’s super fluffy and he notably also has wings and can fly, which is not a trait associated with the chupacabra.
chupa is a fantastic children’s film and not the story of a vicious otherworldly predator, so Chupa is an absolute snuggler who would clearly make a wonderful pet. He is friendly and once they make friends he is loyal to Alex. He also eats sausages that Alex brings to him, suggesting that it’s not just goat blood for the species. These chupacabras appear to be pack animals (which would be fine if they look like dogs) and have a distinctive call that they use to identify themselves. The adult chupacabras (in the movie) are quite massive, which suggests maintaining the mystery of their existence would be quite tricky.
But then again, starships and sasquatches are pretty huge too, so you never know…
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