The ROUS Foundation

Caplin Rous 2007/07/10 - 2011/01/04

The photo above was taken on 2010/12/03, just one month before Caplin Rous died. He looks the picture of health, eating nice tasty, green grass just like a capybara should. Is this what killed him?

UPDATE: Please see the ROUS Foundation page (using the tab at the top of this page) for more information!

Unfortunately we will never know exactly what happened. The necropsy reported chronic liver damage, possibly due to low levels of toxins in his food over a long period of time. Or it could have been from a disease that he had in the distant past. Or from the anesthesia that was used when he was neutered. Or he could have been born with a bad liver.

The innocent looking grass he is eating could harbor aflatoxins. But the same could be said for his hay or guinea pig food or almost anything he ate. Ironically the popsicles that everyone complained about me giving him are probably off the hook but almost everything else is suspect. Nevermind that the horses, the rabbits, the guinea pig and the people who ate the same foods did not get sick. Capybaras may have a greater sensitivity to aflatoxin,  or some other toxin, than any of the other consumers. We just don’t know.

That is why I have decided to start the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Veterinary Medicine. I am working with the veterinary school at Texas A&M University to get this going. There will be two foci of the ROUS Foundation. The first will be to sponsor necropsies and the second will be to study liver function in living capybaras.

You might not think there are many dead capybaras to perform necropsies on but there are a surprising number, especially when you consider zoos and breeders along with pet owners. A lot of the dead capys are babies or young ones who just don’t thrive for some reason (bad livers?), but even older capys like Caplin sometime suddenly sicken and die. Rarely do they get a necropsy to determine cause of death. The ROUS Foundation plans on paying for the necropsy and transport of the body to A&M. This should encourage people and institutions to have a necropsy performed so that we know why captive capybaras are dying.

I am not yet sure what will be done for the liver studies but I am hoping it will be a simple blood test. I will be taking Garibaldi Rous in as soon as possible to have his liver tested to get a baseline for him. We need data on healthy as well ill capybaras to make this work. I am worried that Caplin died from something in our environment, the same thing could happen to Gari. I plan on having his liver tested at least once per year and I’m hoping that if the tests are free other capybara owners will do the same.

I will be posting more information on this web site as it becomes available.

To donate to the ROUS Foundation, use the link on the right side panel or go to www.CaplinRous.com. Purchases and donations from that site go into a special account that I have set up to fund the charity. I will give some of those monies directly to A&M once everything is set up but I plan on using some of the money to create more sale items and generate more revenue that will, of course, feed back into the charity.

48 comments to The ROUS Foundation

  • Randi

    Fantastic idea! So little is known about capys internally and this will definatly expand the database on the innards of our favorite biggin’ rodents

  • Timothy

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I too disagree strongly with some of the diet Caplin had – treats or not, popsicles and Coca-Cola or any other “cute to watch them eat” food that is junk should *never* be fed to animals.
    I am however very thankful for what you are doing. To honor Caplin this way is the right thing to do and to learn more about these wonderful animals is vital. I wonder if Capys in the wild suffer the same ailments or if it is a side effect of captivity/domestication? Perhaps they need something more than just GP food? Because of your efforts, these questions may be answered, and for that I thank you and support you in your efforts to keep on after such a devastating loss.

  • Kristy Ogden

    Caplin is still teaching us…we will always have him in our hearts and in our minds…I know I will. And Gari will worm his cute little way in there too. Caplin would’ve loved him.
    Big hugs Melanie. xo

  • Joann

    Thanks for the update.

    There are so many unknowns but I hope A&M is able to start to understand more about capy physiology and biochemisty. Comparing the baseline of both wild and captive capy’s may provide insight.

    There are so many possibilities. I wonder if there might be something (a plant?)in the wild capy diet that might provide protection against toxins or liver ailment? You are right to get a baseline. Establishing a range of normal will be very useful. Watching trends in liver enzymes will also help develop some diagnostic insight. Is there any capy sanctuary where wild capy’s live (in South America) that might cooperate by collecting blood samples?

    Congratulations on pulling this together.

  • Batsheva

    Is it possible that the type of grass that you have where you live and the food you fed him is so different from what he was designed to eat in South America that it was toxic to him? As fond as I was of watching all the Caplin videos, and as much as I would’ve liked to have met him, maybe capybara aren’t meant to be pets in North America, but rather, wild animals in South America. I’m not saying that to be hurtful, and I hope you don’t take it that way.

  • Fabulous! What a tribute to everyone’s favorite capybara!

  • Jenni

    I wanted to say a few words about how much Caplin meant to me and how wonderful you are for sharing him with the world.

    Reading through your plans for the ROUS Foundation I realised that a few words is not enough to describe your strength and dedication. So can I just say:

    Melanie you are my HERO

    Caplin had the best Mom ever in you and we are all lucky that you allowed us to share his life.

    Thank you xx

  • Christopher

    Is it possible to include Patagonian Cavies in your baseline blood studies. As they are closely related it may help determine if it is in the diet. Our 3 cavies all eat the same food as Guines Pigs and Capybaras so far there have been no issues during vet visits.

    You were a wonderful mom to Caplin, and Gari should thank the stars that he is living with you now. Good luck with your endevor, it takes someone very special to do what you are doing for the animals.

    Regards
    Chris

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ruthi, Bunny Jean Cook, Caplin Rous, nao, バラリ and others. バラリ said: RT @CaplinROUS: ROUS Foundation explained: http://bit.ly/ifqlOD [...]

  • francine

    This is a wonderful idea! When you consider that my beloved guinea pigs are “exotic” pets by vet standards, it’s no surprise that so little is known about captive capys.

    I will spread the word, and wish Gari a long healthy life! Caplin’s memory will never fade!

  • A capybara research fund for Texas A&M is a great idea.

    I’m not a vet so I can’t even guess whether feeding sugary snacks to a capybara actually harms them. However, common food additives can be toxic to pets. One example of this is cats’ susceptibility to benzoic acid. You can be certain they haven’t done much research in this area for any rodent, much less capys.

    Looking forward to hearing from Gari!

  • Alex

    it’s a very good idea. If we humans care about capybaras, we need knowledge. Caplin can never be replaced or forgotten, but what you do is the best possible tribute to him.

  • Petraneferu

    I think the idea of a foundation for the study of capybara health is wonderful! I am a vet tech, and I sure wish I lived close enough to study at A&M! We also desperately need more study on guinea pigs – for their own sakes, rather than for human medicine. I’m glad that there will be a positive legacy that Caplin leaves behind.

  • Robin

    I don’t know if Caplin ate much spinich. There is an oxalate toxin in spinach that is dangerous for bunnies. It doesn’t really bother people. A little bit is ok for bunnies, but should not be a diet staple. Bunnies and Capybara are different species, but a sensitivity to spinach might be shared. Just an idea.

  • Graham

    Very interesting but also frustrating for you too I’m sure, although if food-wise “almost everything is suspect” you might expect that no capybaras at all would survive long in captivity, yet I read Caplin’s grandfather lived 18 years.

    Being honest, I must admit I kind of assumed initally that your idea of the charity – while clearly well-meaning – might perhaps have been a knee-jerk reaction, not thought out fully. But I was clearly very wrong about that and delighted this is the case.

  • Michelle

    I certainly hope there can be more research in exotic animal medicine (including our more common pet guineas). Oddly enough, we use the term “guinea pig” to describe any experimental animal, yet they are one of the research animals that has the least amount of research done strictly on them. There is so much unknown about g. pigs – there are only a handful of genes sequenced, they’ve never been cloned, even their behavior is barely formally documented. I suspect you have learned more about capybara behavior and preferences thanks to having Caplin in your life than most of the world knows about about our “domesticated for a few thousand years” guinea pigs. I hope the foundation thrives and look forward to the findings in the future.

  • Kathryn

    From what we’ve seen of Melanie’s talents with animal care and the written word, I don’t think anything she does can be called a knee-jerk reaction. Her actions are well thought out and approached from different angles. Creating a charity fund is a selfless act that speaks to the way Caplin lived his life and enriched the lives of others. Thank you Melanie!

  • Graham

    Kathryn, I didn’t mean any criticism when I wrote I had initially – but wrongly I fully admit – wondered if Melanie might have had something of a knee-jerk reaction in announcing her intention to set up the charity, which would have been completely understandable given the huge emotional shock at Caplin’s sudden loss (and I noted words of caution from some others too to begin with). As I say though, clearly this was not the case and I’ve very happy about that. I certainly add my voice to those saying “well done Melanie”, you have my full admiration.

  • Nic

    It is sad that Caplin died at the age of 3. I heard that capybaras live 10 years in the wild, and 12 years in captivity. Caplin should have lived about 4x older than when he died.

  • Meg

    My first thought was the chemicals used to clean up the gulf brought in by the rain. There was issues with plants being effected into Illinois, so I would think that there is an issue all over the south. Just one of many issues out there.

  • Wow conspiracy theorists are having a field day with CR death. I’m surprised no one has blamed global warming, secret government experiments, Bermuda Triangle, or abduction by space aliens for Caplin’s death yet.

    Melanie is correct! The fact is we just don’t know enough about capybaras to form any conclusions about what made him sick. Veterinary institutions are more geared towards identify and curing diseases in dogs, cats and domesticated livestocks rather than in wild animals which live among humans.

    The foundation is a good start. Lets hope that in the future, modern veterinary medicine can identify and develop a cure for liver diseases in our beloved animals.

  • Dani

    I extend my condolences on the loss of your capy, Caplin.

    This is my first visit to this site. I looked up capys as being the largest rodent and akin to the cavy. I have had one for 2 years. (formerly had monkeys for 20 years). And when I was forced .so to speak to get a GP, I thought, “a nothing animal” so to speake as comparative to a rambunctious primate. I was so surprised as my now two year old, little shiny black with cream and coffee colored underpinnings, turned out to have an extraordinary personality and behavior. We are together 98 per cent of every day. He chats with me, is house broken, jumps through hoops, is cuddly and affectionate. Follows me around like a puppy, opens doors to rooms to feast on my papers and books, etc. I have dealt with some mishaps myself,like his breaking off his top teeth and trained him out of rattling the
    I have researched the heck out of cavies, as I had done and also written articles about monkeys.
    As one post, posited, the oxalates in spinach, if given too much, can effect the kidneys. I found this in my research.

    I would like to be in contact with other, cavy, capy people.

  • Erika

    Melanie, What you are doing with the foundation is wonderful. I hope that it helps many capys, capy owners, and zoos all over the world.
    Caplin couldn’t have asked for a better capy mom than you! I admire your devotion to him and you strength through these difficult times.
    I make a vow to donate as much as I can to The Rous Foundation. Thank you, as always, for sharing so much information with us all!

  • Madison

    I am in 8th grade and I want to go to Texas A&M when I grow up so maybe one day I can help the foundation!

  • Dobby

    The results of my blood sample taken on Monday will go to the ROUS Foundation. It isn’t quite as easy to draw blood from a capybara as one might think, so it won’t be done routinely just to supply data. I’m just saying.

  • I am so sorry for your loss but I do understand that this is nature and life goes on.

  • Jamie

    I had never heard of a Capybara as a pet. A friend of mine showed me a pic, and I am hooked! I looked them up on youtube and found your site. I am in love. After watching multiple videos, I saw that your “4 legged child” had passed. I am so sorry. I want you to know that your site and videos are toughing peoples lives in a way that you might not even know. I am honored to be able to follow along with your blog and your videos. I look forwards to keeping up with your “capy” adventures (I think that is the right slang term to use, right?!) Thank you! (I look forward to the day in which I might be able to have a capybara, but I will have to work on my husband on that point. hehe

  • [...] featuring Dobby Winnick and NONE featuring me). I can go along with that. It’s a good cause, The ROUS Foundation, and I think arts and crafts is a fun kind of [...]

  • Mira Brands

    I’m quite late to find this out. But I’m shocked to hear he has gone before his time.
    I enjoyed his videos a lot and am wiping away some tears now.
    No doubt, he’ll be in good company at Rainbow Bridge.

  • Sara McCabe

    I, too, am late to find out about Caplin, and I am so sorry. I hadn’t checked the blog in months (obviously), but it had given me a lot of joy over the years. My mother used to read me “Capyboppy” when i was a child, and I’ve always gone straight to the capybaras at any zoo I visit. My friends loved it when I would share Giant Hamster pictures and posts with them. We will all miss Caplin!

  • Lauren

    Hey Melly and co.,

    Just wondering… did Caplin eat his own poop often? If he didn’t, then he probably didn’t have the proper gut flora and might have relied on his other organs, including his liver, to pick up the slack. Given the common developmental origins of the GI tract and brain (and continued similarities after development), this could have attributed to the encephalitis.

    I’m really sorry for your loss; given that I (an every couple of months visitor) started crying at his death, I can’t imagine the sorrow felt by you guys. I’m glad to see the rescue of Garibaldi and his ability to transform your grief into something rehabilitating for all!

  • Garibaldi Rous

    Caplin ate his poop every morning just as I have read capybaras are supposed to. I don’t think that was it. It probably had to do with the anesthesia they used when they neutered him. He had a terrible reaction to that and it could have caused permanent liver damage that stressed him throughout his life.

    The ROUS Foundation has officially kicked off (I made the initial donation to Texas A&M) but I am waiting for more information before I put up a new post.

  • [...] hope everyone knows about the adorable puzzles we are selling for the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Veterinary Medicine. Melly started the Foundation right after Caplin Rous died as a way of honoring him. The puzzles [...]

  • Is the ROUS foundation a registered 501 (c)?

  • Garibaldi Rous

    The ROUS Foundation is not a 501 (c). Money donated to my account for the ROUS Foundation will either go directly to the ROUS Foundation Fund at Texas A&M or I will use it for fundraising schemes (such as the puzzles). I am working with Texas A&M to get a button where you can donate directly to the ROUS Foundation Fund and that will be tax deductible for the donor. I should have the new button in a week or so.

  • Daniela

    In the Rio Pinheiros in São Paulo (metropolis with almost 20 Million people), there are at least 12 families of capybaras. You can see them when you go cycling on the riverbank or from the bridges. This river is extremely polluted and environmentalists still don’t understand how they were able to adapt to it without getting ill. In YouTube there are videos: watch?v=spbLbIczIgA

    Since the capybaras have no natural enemies in the city, the number of animals is multiplying. It is still being discussed how this will be handled. But one thing is for sure: these are not only the greatest rodents out there, but rodents that can adapt very well to an environment with extreme conditions of pollution. I also read in a report that the capybaras there can dive into the Pinheiros and cross the whole river without stopping once to take a breath again. They are now used to people, since a stretch of the bikeway in the riverbanks of the Pinheiros was opened in March 2010.

  • Eve

    It’s dreadful what happened to Caplin. I would think that there would be very specific diets and wellness plans already created and used by zoos that keep capybaras in captivity? Under no circumstances do I think an exotic animal like this should be given anything that veers from what it would have in the wild, like junk food with sugar and dyes. It probably was the anesthesia though since he was a rodent. But still, take care of Gari and maybe follow a more scientific meal plan for him.

  • Debbie

    So sorry to hear about Caplin’s passing. So tragic for him to be taken away so young…
    Never heard of these adorable animals until I stumbled upon a story a few months ago on Yahoo–some were spotted on the West Coast (thought it was a small bear when I first saw the article pic!) These creatures are so amazing. This site has been a wealth of information on Capys.
    Hope Gari will be part of your family for many years to come.

  • Gayle

    So very sorry to hear about Caplin Rous. My husband and I fell in love with Caplin through the internet, and we followed all of his adventures. We hope that because of Caplin, much good will come in the study of capybaras. Thanks, Caplin! You were a great ROUS!!!! We miss you!

  • Chess

    Maybe you guys should stop keeping them as pets. I’m from Brazil were they happily and freely live. In my opinion stop capturing them. They are not meant to be domestic.

  • Sandy S.

    Bottom line: these animals should NOT be domesticated.

  • Hi,
    I just saw this animal for the first time on YouTube and I think they look pretty awesome, can you get them in Australia?
    What are their temperament like, are they shy like guinea pigs or inquisitive like rats? I am assuming they originate in south america but I saw photos of them in Japan. I will read more of your blog and I will probably answer these questions, so cool. Thanks for spreading the word here.

  • I think it would be neat to see a capybara, but I am not sure I’d want to domesticate one. lol I like hamsters because they are small. ;) I think a guinea pig is the largest rodent I would want to have. Hamsters are easy, self-sufficient for the most part, and cute and cuddly.

  • Stacey

    Ah, just found out about Caplin.The videos always made me happy!!!!!

  • Paul Allen

    Caplin Rous was an inspirational animal. So sorry to hear of his early demise.
    Capys and cavys are amazing creatures. You’ve done so much to raise awareness and concern for these delightful animals.

  • [...] and Garibaldi is one of their most prominent ambassadors. He raises capybara awareness through the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Veterinary Medicine, which Melanie founded in conjunction with Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine about three [...]

  • its an exceptionally exceptional thought. Assuming that we people think about capybaras, we require learning. Caplin can never be traded or overlooked, yet your main thing is the best conceivable tribute to hello

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>