AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – Early in June 2022, the Amarillo Zoo released a photo of what it described as an “Unidentified Amarillo Object (UAO)” that caught local and national attention. However, over a week after the incident, no clear explanation for the photo has been released.
MyHighPlains.com has collected a list of cryptids and other legendary monsters from around Texas, New Mexico, and the Oklahoma Panhandle as the community continues to puzzle over the possible identities of the UAO that has taken up residence in Amarillo. While it is by no means an exhaustive list, it covers the most popular cryptids of the High Plains with a similarly furry, or humanoid, appearance to the UAO.
As noted by the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, the name of the legendary American creature translates from Spanish to “goat-sucker” and has been alleged to prey on livestock and other pets for decades. While some believe it is a supernatural creature and others chalk it up as a natural phenomenon, news sources and community members across multiple regions in the United States report sightings of a chupacabra regularly.
Most commonly, the chupacabra is described as a creature with grey, scaly skin, a raised ridge on its back, and vicious teeth. However, as noted by Agrilife experts, many of those traits can be seen on wild animals with severe cases of mange; typically found on coyotes, or more rarely in raccoons.
Across Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, reported Bigfoot sightings have led to the creation of conventions, clubs, and careers for hunters and enthusiasts alike.
Near Amarillo over the past decade, a number of online blogs, forum posts, radio stories, and other pop-cultural news sources have promoted Palo Duro Canyon as a possible locale for Bigfoot on the High Plains.
One of the more notable sightings was from 2006, as recording in the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) online archive. The story, as submitted to the BFRO archive, was reported to have happened in October 2006 in Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
According to Sybilla Irwin, described as a BFRO Investigator:
” The witness was walking on a small road to the public restrooms around 1AM when he heard a rustling sound. He quickly shined his flashlight in the direction of the sound and heard what he described as a “sound scarier than anything I’ve ever heard”. It sounded like a deep, full gasp. He could tell by the sound and the creature’s movement and expression that he had startled it. It instantly moved into the trees and vanished.BFRO Investigator Sybilla Irwin
He reported the creature was 30 to 40 feet away from him. It was too dark to see much in the way of detail but the eyes looked dark and deep-set. Its entire body, including its chest and face, was covered with darkish gray hair. He said it looked similar to “Chewbacca”. He reported that its hair was like animal hair and not fur. He noted that the arms were much longer than a man’s and extended almost to its knees. He noticed that its head was much larger than a human being. He estimates the shoulder width to be broad – approximately 30 to 36 inches; and its weight a lean 300 lbs. There was no odor associated with his sighting.
What he saw paralyzed him with fear. He immediately abandoned the trip to the restroom. He was so scared he chose instead to relieve himself behind his tent. Once back inside his tent he listened intently and heard coyotes on and off during the early morning hours, but heard no other sounds. He admitted he was sleepless for the rest of the night.
He looked for tracks the next day and spoke with three other people, one of which described seeing a Bigfoot creature moving quickly through the area, trying to hide or run away.
He reiterated that what he saw and heard was incredibly frightening because he had never seen anything like that in his life, and he hoped he wouldn’t see it again. He said it was like, “seeing a monster”. “
The Wampus Cat
The Wampus Cat has been reported from the oil fields of West Texas through the Ozarks and claimed by multiple schools across states such as Texas and Arkansas as a mascot.
As noted in Landscape’s “Zoological Note” in 1952, the cat in Texas was reported to be nocturnal and infamous for its “raucous voice.” Elsewhere, it was described as an amphibious “super-panther.”
According to R.S. MacNeil in an outdoor periodical called “Field and Stream,” he said that the cat’s path is “invariably marked with torn and uprooted trees, mangled brush and tufts of bloody fur.”
However, the accounts of the cat vary between storytellers. Another periodical, this time out of Rotan, Texas, described it as “a cross between a wild cat, a badger, and a lobo wolf, with fangs two inches long and claws that could peel the bark off a mesquite tree.” Meanwhile, Conway High School in Arkansas said that its mascot has six legs; four to run with, and two for fighting.
While the story is more well-known in Denton with its Old Alton Bridge – the Goatman appears in urban legends across the United States, including in Maryland, and other parts of Texas. Described as a creature appearing as a part man, part goat, with scales and long, clawed fingers, the Goatman is credited to sightings near lakes and bridges.
For example, aside from the Old Alton Bridge in Denton, folklorists and hobbyists noted the Goatman is also similar to, and sometimes recognized as the same as, the Lake Worth Monster outside of Fort Worth. Although the more famous sightings of the alleged Goatman occurred outside the High Plains, online blogs and other news sources have speculated on whether or not the monster has migrated nearby the Amarillo Zoo.
Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and a number of other international regions and cultures recognize the Coco, or Cucuy, in nightmarish myth and legend. According to folklorists and common traditions, as noted by the University of Extremadura, the idea of the Coco is used as a way of discouraging children from misbehaving. Folklorists consider that the Coco’s appearance isn’t as important as the fact it is said to be a child-eater and a kidnapper who spirits away disobedient children.
Several 17th-century nursery rhymes described the Coco as a shadow lurking outside of children’s windows and on rooftops at night, watching for those that it might catch and take to eat. Essentially, traditions and popular consciousness treat the Coco as a “boogeyman.” Similar figures in popular culture include Baba Yaga, the Big Bad Wolf, the Sack Man, Krampus, and La Llorona.
Although Roswell, New Mexico, is over 200 miles away from Amarillo, the cultural appreciation for aliens is a staple across the High Plains. From the Roswell Incident in 1947 to the Lubbock Lights of 1951, alleged sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO’s) and other unexplained phenomena have led many to believe in extraterrestrial mischief across the southwest United States. Further, those sightings have spurred many personal anecdotes, roadside attractions, merchandising opportunities, and lifelong pursuits for evidence of neighbors from another world.
While officials with the Amarillo Zoo were doubtful that they would ever truly know the identity of the UAO in its late-night walk in early June 2022, they have continued to encourage community members to have fun in discussing the possibilities.
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