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Mythical chupacabra found in Texas?

September 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

CUERO, TEXAS — Phylis Canion lived in Africa for four years. She has been a hunter all her life and has the mounted heads of a zebra and other exotic animals in her house to prove it.

But the roadkill she found last month outside her ranch was a new one even for her, worth hiding in a freezer: Canion believes she may have the head of the mythical, bloodsucking chupacabra.

"It is one ugly creature," Canion said, holding the head of the mammal with big ears, large fanged teeth and grayish-blue, mostly hairless skin.

Canion and some neighbors discovered the 40-pound bodies of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in Cuero, 80 miles southeast of San Antonio. Canion said she saved one of the heads so she could get to the bottom of its ancestry through DNA testing and then mount it for posterity.

She suspects that a chupacabra may have killed as many as 26 of her chickens over the last couple of years.

"I've seen a lot of nasty stuff. I've never seen anything like this," she said.

What tipped Canion to the possibility that this might be the vampire-like beast, is that the chickens weren't eaten or carried off; all the blood was drained from them, she said.

Chupacabra, which means "goat sucker" in Spanish, and it is said to have originated in Latin America. "I think it could have wolf in it," Canion said. "It has to be a cross between two or three different things."

What folks are calling a chupacabra is probably a strange breed of dog, said veterinarian Travis Schaar of the Main Street Animal Hospital in nearby Victoria.

"I'm not going to tell you that's not a chupacabra. I just think in my opinion a chupacabra is a dog," said Schaar, who has seen Canion's find.

The three dead animals could have all been part of a mutated litter of dogs, or they may be a new kind of mutt, he said. Schaar said this particular canine may have a preference for blood, letting its prey bleed out and licking it up.

Chupacabra or not, the discovery has spawned an international craze. Canion is selling $5 T-shirts that read: "2007, The Summer of the Chupacabra, Cuero, Texas," all over the world.

"If everyone has a fun time with it, we'll keep doing it," she said. "It's good for Cuero."

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