Stories of a creature with a head like a dog and hind legs like a kangaroo, which sucks the blood out of chickens and rabbits take us back to the old country. Yes, it may be part of what we call the Old Country, however it is in modern day Ukraine that these stories live. Not long ago, I was made aware of these creatures roaming the western Ukrainian countryside. By all accounts, this creature or creatures have even made it to the outskirts of Kiev. It would normally be worth little more than a short account in your supermarket tabloids if it weren’t for the level of publicity and actual concern of people. Several news stories have been dedicated to sightings of chupakabra, the above described creature. One woman was even able to produce the scars left behind after a near-fatal encounter with the creature.
A few days after hearing of this creature for the first time, we were camping in the Ukrainian countryside. We were startled awake by a terrible squealing and banshee-like shrieking that would have raised the dead. Fortunately, though, it did not awaken our three children. Lying in the tent, trying to figure out if I had dreamed it, I turned over the possible explanations for such a ghastly sound. My fears were confirmed after a long silence when my wife asked, “What makes such an awful sound?” Chupakabra, of course! The only other possible explanations were some creature being ripped apart or wild hogs fighting in the nearby forest. Of course, the first explanation brings us to the question, “What was attacking the poor creature?” Whatever it was, we survived the week in our tent.
Could there be such a creature? We have yet to catalog all the varieties of animals in our world, so there is a possibility that such a beast exists. A more likely scenario would be an animal that could be deformed in some manner or just mistakenly identified by the eyewitnesses, who live in villages where exorbitant amounts of samogonka (“self-brew” liquor) are consumed. Another possible explanation could be a line of mutants stemming from the Chernobyl meltdown.
Though there could be other possible scientific explanations, it may be best to understand it as a psychological phenomenon. If the description of these creatures is very similar to the description of fabled creatures of the past, we may ask the question, “Why now?” After many mythical creatures have lain dormant for decades, what has awakened them to stalk us now? I propose no scientific proof and do not plan to study this phenomenon in-depth. (Hey, this a blog not a journal.) However, I would propose that chupakabra are quite possibly the expression of vague deep-seated fears of a people. The past several years in Ukraine have been marked with political uncertainties, financial crises, and pandemic scares. These have left people with many troubling and undefined fears. Could the chupakabra be a way for people to put a name to these fears? Is it a natural means of dealing with these issues by transposing those feelings on a mythical creature? I don’t know if we will ever find the answer, but the search for the chupakabra goes on. Just don’t forget to shut your windows at night. You never know to which country the beast might migrate next.