Jerry Ayer has been fielding calls all day, every day since the news broke about a possible chupacabra that came into his possession a little over a week ago.
Ayer, owner and instructor of Blanco Taxidermy School and master taxidermist, received the ‘chupacabra’ from a student, Lynn Butler, in exchange for lessons on duck mounting.
The animal, found near Rosenberg, Texas, was poisoned when Butler’s cousin put out poison thinking that a rodent was getting into the barn. They were very surprised when the rodent turned out to be a coyote like animal. After contacting Ayer, the unidentified animal sat in a freezer until he could bring it to Blanco.
Once Ayer received the carcass, he decided to use the animal to gain a little publicity and called KSAT, the ABC affiliate in San Antonio, to come out and see the strange animal. Ayer knew that because of the lore of the chupacabra, that people would be interested, especially in South Texas, where the mystery of the chupacabra is well known.
The legend of the chupacabra started in the 1990s when several goats were killed in Puerto Rico and each had puncture marks on their chest and were reportedly drained of all blood. In 2004, a rancher in San Antonio reported seeing a hairless dog-like creature that was attacking his livestock. Since then, there have been reports of sightings in other South Texas towns, the Philippines and even Russia.
Ayer does not believe the legends, and does not believe in mythical beasts, and states, “I am not sure what the animal is. Everybody is calling it a chupacabra, so I will, too. But I do not believe in mythical beasts or the chupacabra. I think it is most likely a genetically defected coyote.”
Some have claimed that it is merely a coyote with a horrendous case of mange. According to a veterinarian friend, a case of mange bad enough to eradicate 95% of the hair on an animal’s body would cause the skin to tear. There is no visible tearing on this animal’s skin.
Media, however, told a slightly different story.
That small segment aired that night, and by the next morning, Ayer’s answering machine was full. Reporters from Telemundo, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS were calling for interviews. He was asked to come on Good Morning America, and to do spots on shows such as MonsterQuest and Man Cow.
It has showed up in print and on news stations across the United States, from the LA Times to the Miami Herald. It has also gained attention internationally, from the United Kingdom to Asia and Canada.
The story is being told all over. But it hasn’t necessarily been told accurately. Reporters have taken and twisted it to sell the news. Ayer is being quoted as declaring it to be a chupacabra and that it was found in Blanco, with a second one found in Rosenberg, which is untrue.
Aside from the unrelenting calls from media outlets across the globe, Ayer is also fielding calls from animal rights activists for poisoning the animal. He is adamant in his response, “I do not condone poisoning.” He has received calls from people chastising him for taxidermy in general; rants from people wanting to know why he kills animals and then mounts them. Ironically, Ayer is not a hunter. He considers himself to be a wildlife artist, someone who captures the beauty of the animal.
The overwhelming amount of attention he received in just a few short days was unnerving. He went from a local taxidermist, unknown to most of the world, to having his name broadcast around the world. “I thought it would be good for business, get my business on TV and bring in a few students. I never imagined it getting this big,” says Ayer. It took him a few days to get his bearings, but not after receiving a couple of death threats. Those were tough to digest.
As for the chupacabra, it has been mounted. Ayer offered it to the Witte Museum, but they turned it down. The Buckhorn is interested as well as some private investors.
Ayer is ready to be done with it and get on with his life. As for the chupacabra, testing is being done to determine what type of animal it is by both Texas A&M University and Davis University.
Ayer says, “I want to thank the Blanco Police Department for their effort in providing extra surveillance and support.”