Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Efforts by San Diegan Help Critically Endangered Chupacabra
FEVERISHLY DIALING THE PEOPLE AT ANIMAL PLANET - As recently as five years ago, the Chupacabra was in danger of becoming a myth. Only three were thought to remain in the wild, and an effort to house one at the San Diego Wild Animal Park ended with the horrific and seemingly improbable death of Gus the white African rhino. But today, it looks like there may be hope for the legendary goat-sucker.
"What really inspired us was the great job the California Wolf Center did with reintroducing the Mexican Gray Wolf into the wild," explains Chelsea Randlett, the San Diego-born Director of the Chupacabra Rehabilitation Alliance in Zapopan-Yucatan (CRAZY). "They took a natural predator, bred it in captivity, and released it into Federally protected grazing lands just loaded with slow-moving, juicy cattle.
Such a move might seem a little, well, crazy, since historically, wolves were killed by ranchers for attacking livestock. But, notes Randlett, "at the Wolf Center, researchers have been experimenting with taste aversion - lacing meat with a nausea-inducing chemical. Dan Moriarty, a professor of psychological sciences at the University of San Diego, is using the technique to teach captive Mexican gray wolves that eating sheep will make them sick."
"We're doing the same thing with the Chupacabras and goat-blood," explains Randlett. "We've been getting the goats here at the CRAZY corral super drunk on fermented feed, so that their blood alcohol level is totally elevated. When the Chupacabra starts sucking, it gets a little buzzed, and loses its natural sense of when to stop - just like a conventioneer down in the Gaslamp. It just keeps drinking and drinking, and eventually, it gets pretty darned nauseous. With any luck, it will learn its lesson and never drink goat blood again. Just like a person would!"
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