Published: 10:29 AM - 01-04-12
Why did the chupacabra cross the road? Who knows? But its decision to do so has sparked quite the debate in the KGUN9 newsroom and on the station's Facebook page.
9 On Your Side Chief Meteorologist Erin Christiansen was driving along Speedway just west of Camino Seco the other night when a creature of some sort darted in front of her car. This was no momentary corner-of-the-eye glimpse of something flashing by several car lengths ahead, she says. "It was smack dab in front of my car, in my headlights."
"Thing?" What kind of "thing?"
"I thought, 'That's a chupacabra.'"
Erin describes it as being about the size of a coyote, but the similarity ends there. "There was not a stitch of hair on this thing. Its skin was black, almost charred, and not completely uniform in color. Mostly blackish gray."
But it wasn't the hideous hairlessness of the creature that got her attention. It was its freakish face. "Its ears were disproportionate to its face. It looked more like a bat."
A dog-sized bat. With four legs. Jaywalking in Tucson. What kind of creature does that describe?
What else? A chupacabra, Tucson style.
The word comes from the Spanish terms for "suck" and "goat" -- put them together, and you get "goat sucker." Rumors of chupacabra sightings have bounced around North America, Mexico and Puerto Rico for half a century. Descriptions have varied. But one constant is the supposed predilection of the chupacabra to attack goats or other livestock.
Most scientists who are willing to talk about the chupacabra -- and there aren't many -- believe the animals probably are coyotes, raccoons or other furry mammals suffering from a skin disease that causes loss of hair.
That sounds much like the animal a KGUN9 viewer recently captured via a cell phone photo, spotted lurking in a parking lot near the station. The viewer -- who absolutely, positively does not want his name revealed (clearly, he's no dummy) -- said he's seen the creature on more than one occasion.
Right now KGUN9 employees are on the lookout for the creature, hoping to bag it, tame it and train it. If successful, KGUN9 will be the only TV station in the world with a guard chupacabra.
OK, we're only kidding about that. But Erin is not kidding when she says she saw something bizarre that night. She says the creature caught in the viewer photos was similar to the one she saw, except for the face.
Believe it or don't. But one thing is for sure: the tale has people talking. Some KGUN9 viewers are scoffing at the claim, but others have written in to say they've seen the creature, too. Some swear they've seen it more than once.
So the next time Erin sees something out of a low-budget science fiction movie cross the road, will she speak up, or keep it to herself?
Erin admits that she is a big fan of The Twilight Zone. But she insists that has nothing to do with it. "I got a good look at this thing," Erin said firmly. "There is something going on."
East-siders, consider yourselves forewarned.