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Calgary Zoo Gets Capybara Pair

Big news for you Calgarians (or whatever you are called). You now have a pair of capybaras named Adali and Pakhi. Here’s the article. I’d love to have photos to post on my blog so if you go be sure to take your camera.

Book Review: Capybaras: A Natural History of the World’s Largest Rodent

Capybaras: A Natural History of the World’s Largest Rodent by Rexford D. Lord

Book Type: Technical, Natural History
Date of Publication: 07/2009
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

Review_CapybarasNaturalHistory

Synopsis:

This is a technical book requiring the reader to have a general familiarity with biological concepts and techniques as well as a familiarity with anatomy. The chapters are:

  • General Characteristics of the Capybara
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Natural History, Ecology and Behavior
  • Diseases, Parasites and Hazards
  • Census and Population
  • Conservation and Management
  • Case History: A 10-year Population Study

The entire book, including appendicies, is 159 pages, although the pages with color plates are not counted.

Owner’s Review:  GreenHands3

Since I have a degree in biochemistry and have done graduate work in biology, I have the appropriate background to understand and interpret the technical data in this book. But still, I was surprised by the amount of actual data verses meaningful analysis. And many of the points are repeated in several chapters, giving the already thin volume an air of desperation to fill its pages.

I did learn several interesting facts. I learned that the smaller capybaras in Panama and Colombia are actually considered a separate species, making two capybara species rather than one. I also did not know the extent to which capybara populations have plummeted through most of their range due to overhunting. Some of the information on predation and disease was also interesting but much of the disease section was inconclusive and probably wouldn’t even be of much interest to a vet.

Much of the book focuses on capybara management in the llanos of Venezuela. Of interest in these sections was the large number, and large percentage, of capybaras “harvested” each year. But most of this would be useful only to a rancher in that region.

The photographs are interesting but not the striking images I would expect someone who had spent 10 years studying these animals to have taken. The cover photo is a good example of this. It’s not a bad photo but it is not a great one either.

On the whole, the book was a bit of a disappointment, especially as there is so little information about these animals available.

Caplin’s Review:   GreenPaws2

Reading this book made me so glad I am a pet capybara and not one living in the wild or on a ranch. Apparently, the life expectancy of a capybara on an Hato in Venezuela is only 1.5 years! And those are the capybaras that have it easy!  The photograph of a baby capy being sprited away by a caracara was especially disturbing. And the story about a male capybara randomly picking up a baby with his teeth and killing it! How horrible is that?

He did cover some of our nicer aspects though. Mother capybaras will nurse any young in their band, not just their own babies. Capybaras form a protective circle around the young to protect them when threatened. And he mentioned what excellent swimmers we are.

I didn’t even bother to look at any of the charts ortables of data though. That stuff bores me. I have to rely on my owner to tell me if there’s anything important there.

A Visit to the Kyle, Texas library

Me with Chelsea and Cayla at Kyle Library

Me with Chelsea and Cayla at Kyle Library

Last Friday my owner and I took a quick trip down the the Kyle Public Library to see if they were interested in us doing one of our book reading/capybara encounters.  Before the library opened, I met with some new friends, Shirley Bauder and her two granddaughters Chelsea and Cayla. Shirley took all the photos you see in this post.  (Thanks!) I loved having the kids feed me blueberries, which are one of my very favorite treats.

When the library opened, they asked me if I could stay until 10:30, which is story time for the little kids. Well, we weren’t very prepared but then you don’t have to be when you have a cute animal like me around to provide the entertainment.

My owner got to talk a little bit about Celeste and the Giant Hamster, although it is really for an older audience than we had. And she gave a copy to the library so that all the local kids can read it. Plus we got invited back for an official book reading/capybara encounter. We still have to pick a time and date for that. I will let y’all know when it is settled.

This brings me to a point:

If you would like to have me and my owner visit your local library or your classroom, just drop us a line via the contact button on the left sidebar. We love teaching people about capybaras and rodents in general. If you are a 3-5th grade class and have read my book, I would LOVE to come and talk to you. (My owner needs constant positive feedback or she gets all paranoid that no one likes the book.)

Kapibara-san gifts from Japan

Don’t know how many of you know this, but Japan is the center of capybara culture. We are worshiped in Japan, as we should be worldwide. This love has been cultured and nurtured by the Kapibara-san cartoon.

Kapibara-san does not actually look much like a capybara. Sure, they got the big head right. And maybe our cute ears and little mouth. And I’ll have to grant them the big eyes. And we are all nose. But other than that, Kapibara-san doesn’t even look like a capybara. Specifically, I am referring to the legs, of which Kapibara-san has none. That animal could not swim if its life depended on it (although there is a good chance its life wouldn’t depend on it since it looks like it would float).

That doesn’t mean that I don’t love Kapibara-san. I do! He’s the greatest (next to Capyboppy). And so you can only imagine how excited I was when my twitter friend @kotaro, known as Kotaro Yokoyama on FaceBook, sent me these amazing Kapibara-san artifacts.

Plush Kapibara-san dangly

Plush Kapibara-san dangly

Look how cute that thing is! I could just eat him up!

Kapibara-san phone dangle

Kapibara-san phone dangle

Phone dangles are very big in Japan. My owner said that she went to a big business meeting and all the engineers had dangles on their phones. Why hasn’t that caught on in the US? I hear the iPhone doesn’t even have a place to hang a dangle.

I can’t figure out what the capy is eating though. Is it a pick tomato? Do they have those in Japan?

My own Caplin/Kapibara-san phone dangle!

My own Caplin/Kapibara-san phone dangle!

I saved the best for last. Look at this! A Kapibara-san phone dangle with my name on it! How did he get that? Look, it came in its own little package. Is Caplin a common name in Japan? Then why isn’t it in Japanese script? No, it has to be just for me! Amazing.

It does leave one perplexing question…why is Kapibara-san drinking a martini? Do Japanese capybaras drink alcohol? And why isn’t it sake then? I think I would like that better. This is a real mystery to which we may never know the answer.

Update on Coney Island capybara

Found a couple of new articles about the capybara(s) at the Coney Island carnival.

I read and replied to this one. The good news is that the capybara’s situation is monitored by local authorities. Another good thing is that the capybara is not there all the time, they are rotated out every three weeks or so, which explains why some people see an adult capybara and some people see a youngster.

Here’s another article. This one even references this blog.

What my owner and I would like is for the poor capy to have some hay to sleep on and to munch, maybe a solid wall or two in the back where it could feel a little less exposed and a decent sized water bowl to soak in. I’m not saying it has to be able to swim or anything. Maybe something as big as a kiddie pool. It’s just we feel so much more comfortable in the water.

One last thing. My owner and I are not against carnivals or carnival animals. There are always good and bad in any mix of people or events. Branding everyone in any group on the basis of a subset is prejudice no matter what the group is. Well, unless you’re in a hate group, like the IHC (I Hate Capybaras).

Another capybara on display:

Thanks to Paula King for taking this video of a capybara at the county fair in Hamburg, NY. Notice that this capybara has enough water to roll in (this is a 50 gallon horse water trough, I have one just like it), a surface with traction and plenty of hay for munching on. The water is pretty disgusting, but we capybaras poop in the water which makes it difficult to keep clean. I would assume we are seeing this late in the cleaning cycle and someone will take care of it soon.

How difficult would it be for the Coney Island people to set up something like this? Not hard at all and so much better for the capybara!