Texas' Blood-Sucking Monster

His trip inspired him to create a recent set of paintings about the chupacabra. Instead of portraying it as a monster, he took a whimsical approach, defying local perceptions.

"Some are old. Some are young and showboating," he said. "Some are blue with red moles, or red with freckles."

A Cult Favorite

Henry Serrato, who works for a south Texas television station and is an amateur filmmaker, also took a whimsical approach with his mockumentary or documentary spoof titled "The Search for the Chupacabra."

Blending real in-person interviews with fictionalized accounts, his film highlights some of the absurdities of the science-fiction fan world -- such as the time a real film crew showed up in south Texas ready to film scenes about sightings of a giant Pterodactyl-like bird last spotted there in the '70s.

"The crew shows up in 1996 -- 20 years too late. Here was a crew going around interviewing about the big bird, and everyone wants to talk about the chupacabra," he said.

"It's reached cult status," he said of the chupacabra.

Just a Coyote?

Lately, there have been signs that the chupacabra myth may die out before reaching worldwide fame.

Several carcasses of supposed chupacabras have been brought to the attention of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

And its official determination?

The animals were nothing but coyotes with severe cases of sarcoptic mange, a nasty skin disease that leaves the animals emaciated and partially hairless with bluish skin.

It's a plausible explanation for why people may let their imaginations wander, said Danny Pence, a professor of parasitology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. He was talking to the San-Antonio Express-News.

"If you never worked with them or seen them, they do look strange," he told the newspaper.

But Pettis, the chupacabra Webmaster, isn't convinced. He has seen several pictures of the carcasses.

"It didn't look like a coyote. Its back legs were too long," he said.

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