Chupacabras = Puerto Rican Monkeys?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 23rd, 2008

Chupacabras reports from the 1990s in Puerto Rico said they were upright furry primates. Could the accounts have been of escaped monkeys?

Read what the background eyewitness story from the island that happened in August 2008, concerning the above photograph, as published in Puerto Rico: A Paradise Lost?:

While driving up a narrow passage of a washed out mountain path I was shocked to see something walking in the distance under the tree line. I had just turned around as the road became absolutely impassible for anything less than a 4×4 designed for specifically for extreme conditions… and definitely too much for my Jeep.

Was that a monkey? Are they Puerto Rican Monkeys?

As I caught a glimpse of one of them from the back, moving away from me, I thought: “Was that a Kangaroo?“. The strange long legs and stride, from the back, looked a lot like a marsupial.

I had my camera in the back. I jumped out to get it. I wanted photographic evidence of this whether is was some species of monkey not supposed to be in Puerto Rico, or the Chupacabra itself! I shut down the engine and waited to see if they might double back. After about 10 minutes, I figured I had startled them and decided to leave. Just as I went to turn the key I saw a parade of brown legs moving under the tree line. It was a pack of monkeys!

News is coming out of the island this week that released and escaped Patas and Rhesus monkeys, so on the loose for 30 years, are being killed and caught. Could they be the source of startled eyewitness accounts from thirteen years ago of Chupacabras?

The following Orlando Sentinel news item from Lajas, Puerto Rico, summarizes the story of the out-of-place monkeys, including an account of a Puerto Rican mountain lion.

The easy life is over for hundreds of monkeys — some harboring herpes and hepatitis — that have run wild through southwestern Puerto Rico for more than 30 years.

Authorities launched a plan this month to capture and kill the monkeys before they spread across the entire island, threatening agriculture, native wildlife and people. But some animal experts and the farmers who have complained for years about the rhesus and patas monkeys think it may be too late.

“I don’t honestly believe they will ever get rid of the patas monkeys in Puerto Rico,” said Mark Wilson, director of the Florida International Teaching Zoo, which has helped find zoos willing to take some of the animals. “They may go deep into the forest, but they will never go away. There’s just too many of them, and they are too smart.”

Monkeys caught in traps

At least 1,000 monkeys from at least 11 colonies populate the Lajas Valley. After a year of study, rangers began trapping them in cages about 10 feet long, baited with food and equipped with a trip lever. Two of 16 monkeys were released with radio collars for further tracking. Each of the others was killed with one shot from a .22-caliber rifle.

Officials determined shooting the monkeys was more humane than lethal injection, said Secretary of Natural Resources Javier Velez Arrocho. He said he regrets having to kill the animals but had no choice after scores of organizations rejected them.

Some of the monkeys were sent to a teaching zoo in Sumter County in 2007, and a troop of about 15 monkeys escaped earlier this year from a wildlife preserve near Lakeland.

No public protests

Animal treatment is a sensitive topic in Puerto Rico, which was in the spotlight last year after about 80 dogs and cats were seized from a housing project and hurled off a bridge. In May, a veterinarian confirmed that more than 400 racehorses, many in perfect health, are killed by injection in Puerto Rico each year. Both cases sparked widespread criticism. But the elimination of pesky monkeys has not spawned public protests.

“My personal opinion is that I would rather see them put to sleep than put through horrible experiments,” said Sally Figueroa, a board member of the animal-welfare group Pare Este in the eastern city of Fajardo.

Non-natives flourish

The scourge of non-native animals is particularly acute in Puerto Rico because of its lush climate and lack of predators. Several species of snakes, crocodiles, caimans and alligators — imported, kept as pets, then released into the wild — now flourish in more than 30 rivers, said Sgt. Angel Atienza, a ranger who specializes in exotic animals.

As Atienza spoke, his agents were investigating reports of a mountain lion running wild in hills near the small central town of Adjuntas.

Animal controls costly

The Lajas monkeys arrived in the 1960s and ’70s after escaping research facilities on small islands off the mainland. They adapted easily, fueled by plentiful crops.

The creatures cost about $300,000 in annual damage and more than $1 million in indirect ways, such as forcing farmers to plant less profitable crops that don’t attract the animals, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies. The monkeys are also blamed for a dramatic drop in the valley’s bird population.

Lacking resources, the Puerto Rican government has made only sporadic attempts to control the monkeys in the past. Last year, however, the island’s agricultural and wildlife agencies secured $1.8million from the territorial government, allowing them to track, study and begin trying to eliminate the Lajas Valley populations. Ben Fox

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

6 Responses to “Chupacabras = Puerto Rican Monkeys?”

  1. glendoor42 responds:

    I saw a show about chupacabras recently, I think it was MonsterQuest but not sure, and it was the first mention I had heard that there was monkeys in Puerto Rico and, well, right then, a lot of the mystery of the chupacabras sightings for me, sadly, went away.

    I don’t know, the older I get, the more the simpler explanation for something is starting hold a lot more weight with me. I want to believe but it’s getting harder and harder every day.

  2. eireman responds:

    It is my belief that the Chupacabras may represent an amalgamation of these invasive species: the reported spiny back could represent the non-native iguanas; disease-ridden monkeys escaping from Cayo Santiago could give Chupacabras its attributes of bounding through trees and semi-bipedal stance. It’s like when the ancients conjured their monsters and they were a combination of lions, snakes, and birds of prey.

  3. crapple responds:

    But what explains the killed animals and the weird animals spotted sucking out their blood?

    And what about the huge bounding Leaps?

    The wings sometimes spotted?

    The Spines?

    And the spread of sightings to Texas?

    The puncture Wounds?


  4. ukulelemike responds:

    Stuff and/or nonsense probably explains most of it. Hey, I raise goats, and have never had anything suck on them, except their kids, and occasionally my wife nibbles on their ears, (my wife loves her goats!). Goat sucker, indeeeeed, sir! William, get my bags-my back is killing me! Oh the pain, the pain!

  5. springheeledjack responds:

    The most interesting info I got on Chupacabras came from an older show called Unsolved Mysteries. Most of the time it was murders, abductions, etc. but they did a show on Champ and one on Chupacabras.

    The one on chupacabras had more detailed descriptions of the thing and the impression I got was that it was bigger than a monkey–more like 4-5 feet tall and bipedal. Also It was described on multiple occasions as having the commercial oversized red eyes. (by the way this was in Costa Rica) There was supposedly a policeman who was looking into it and he had apparently seen one cross in front of him on a road, but after that particular show, I never heard any more from that area or that police man.

    Apparently I am one of the few people who watched these shows (as Ben R and I got into a lengthy discussion over Champ on that one way back when:), but they stuck in my mind though, and on my shelf in VHS, I have them still.

    From that information I got the impression that Chup was more than just some monkey or canine…

  6. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    In the case of the Chupacabras, what we are seeing is the evolution of a myth, imo. That is why we see the spread from Puerto Rico to other areas of Latin America and then to the American southwest. It’s why its gone from being a bipedal critter with spines in Puerto Rico to strange winged/reptilian/wolf monsters to ultimately misidentified mangey dogs and coyotes. It’s the evolution of myth. There isn’t any consistency in the animal reported, no physical evidence, other than the kind of strange phenomenon that in the past has been associated with everything from vampires to UFOs (cattle mutilations).

    Yes, strange when an exsanguinated goat turns up.

    Yes, interesting in that we can see the development of various threads of modern folklore (from UFOs to government experiments).

    But, imo, not a legitimate cryptid of the flesh and blood variety in any way shape or form.

    So how do I explain the variety of forms reported and the spread of reports to Texas? Not through any migration of a real critter, but by the amazing ability of people to spread stories. (And to even create things in their mind, like the Texas lady who reported that the mangey coyote critter killed outside San Antonio was exactly the critter her grandma described as a chupacabras when she was a kid. When the oldest chupacabras reports out of Puerto Rico aren’t even more that twenty years old.)

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