Graphic by Gordon Huang

Last Tuesday a UC Riverside student took a photo of what he believed was a Chupacabra roaming the parking lot outside of the Student Recreation Center. The sighting has prompted mixed responses ranging from deep concern to awe. “I had just finished working out when I saw it standing next to my car, sniffing the air,” the student told the Highlander on the condition of anonymity. “At first I thought it was a dog, but when I got closer it didn’t look like any dog I’ve ever seen. I had to get a picture of it.”

In the picture the hairless, big-eared creature is seen running from under the student’s car. The student immediately notified the authorities, who quickly responded to the scene but were unable to capture the animal as it fled to the Box Springs Mountains.In the following days, numerous staff, students and faculty have snapped pictures of the creature running across the field outside of Rivera Library, near Winston Chung Hall and even through the HUB. “I was about to sit down and eat my Panda Express when I felt something moving under my table,” an English student told the Highlander. “I looked down and saw two big yellow eyes staring at me.”
While the animal has been increasingly active this past week, reported sightings trace back to July of last year. Last Friday UCPD issued a statement to the UCR community in which they deemed the animal, codenamed “UCR Chupacabra,” a threat to the campus and that officers are determined to capture the Chupacabra. However, many students have spoken out in defense for the animal. Some have even gone so far as to create a Facebook page titled, “I Love the UCR Chupacabra,” as of print time, has 287 likes.

A fifth-year engineering student told the Highlander that the UCR Chupacabra saved her life last March. “I was walking back to Falkirk from school late at night after studying for finals when a man came up to me on the sidewalk. He pulled out a knife and demanded that I give him my laptop, and just as I was about to hand it over, the UCR Chupacabra came running from behind him and bit his leg,” stated the student. “It breaks my heart knowing that the police are hunting such a nice, sweet creature.” Many others have also noted the Chupacabra’s kind behavior. An anonymous UCR staff member told the Highlander that the Chupacabra protected him from coyotes on his daily commute to campus.

“The UCR Chupacabra is the hero Riverside deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So UCPD will hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A UCR Chupacabra,” said the anonymous UCR staff member. UCPD has not yet responded to any of the campus-wide criticism of their UCR Chupacabra policy.