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Is it El Chupacabra

The town of Cuero has been under media siege since the finding of what
some believe is the legendary El Chupacabra.


Was the hairless canine-turned-roadkill last summer near Cuero a
El Chupacabra?


That question, which has fueled speculation across the globe, might be
settled tonight as KENS-5 in San Antonio opens an envelope with the
results of DNA tests on the carcass.


The event will be broadcast live during the TV station's 10 p.m.
broadcast, said Joe Conger, reporter for KENS-5.


Opening the envelope, however, will be done by Phylis Canion of Cuero,
who took possession of the creature in July after it was killed on a
road near her ranch south of Cuero, the county seat of DeWitt County.


The venue will be the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos.
The biology department there conducted the tests, which were funded by
KENS-5. The results will be carried live and posted on the station's
Web site, MySA.com; look for the key words "Strange News."


"We're hoping to put everything to bed," said Conger, "but we may wind
up raising more questions."


El Chupacabra, the Spanish term for "goat eater," is an icon in
south-of-the-border folklore. It is a mysterious creature in the realm
of Bigfoot or the bogeyman, although there have been different
descriptions of the beast through history.


It's distinction is its craving for the blood of farm animals, like
goats and chickens. It's often used to scare children into obeying
their parents, as in "You better behave of the Chupacabra will get
you."


Canion said she has been observing a hairless canine for a couple
years on her property, and she believes it is responsible for killing
her chickens -- with meat intact but ate dry of their blood.


"What caught my attention the fastest was that it appeared to be
hairless ... but healthy looking," she said.


Some speculation suggests that the animal, one of three hairless
canines killed by cars last summer near Cuero, is a coyote or fox
afflicted with a mange that causes animals to lose their hair and
turns their skin blue.


But Canion disagrees with that theory because the canine she saw
looked healthy. Mange, she said, can be fatal.


"So,'' she said, "in talking with friends and family and explaining to
them what was going on, that's when everybody kept telling me, 'Oh my
gosh, that sounds like this is the El Chupacabra.'"


Michael Forstner, professor of biology at Texas State University, has
been overseeing DNA tests on tissue samples taken from the animal.


The first test was inconclusive, which has heightened the
Internet-fueled speculation that this might be the El Chupacabra.


Video crews from Japanese and Italian news stations have come to Cuero
to check out the mystery for themselves. The Discovery Channel also
paid a visit.


But Forstner said he hopes science will also benefit from the story.


"I want something out of all this speculation that makes something
useful," Forstner said in a recent interview. "I want something that
goes from the fantastical and foolish into something that actually
goes into dark corners and sheds light.''


He noted that if the animal did have mange that could be important
information for state wildlife officials, ranchers and even pet
owners.


''There's a whole venue of data out there that's worth following up
on,'' he said. "My assumption is that this is medical -- although it
could be genetic -- but an infectious disease.


"Is there a vector of mange from coyotes to dogs or dogs to coyotes?"


Canion, who owns a retail/embroidery business in Cuero, has sold more
than 9,000 T-shirts that commemorate the discovery of the carcass
outside her ranch.


The graphic, which shows a ferocious, pouncing creature, reads, "2007:
Summer of the El Chupacabra, Cuero, Texas."


"I'm excited," Canion said Thursday afternoon. "My gut tells me (the
animal) will turn out to be something different. But what I'm really
hoping is that it's going to be called 'something similar to,' which
means it's not definitive.


"That would be great, because that would mean the El Chupacabra lives
on."

more information: El Chupacabra El Chupacabra pictures El Chupacabra video