TAMU, shmamu 2013

On the road--again

This is the story of my participation in the Texas A&M Vet School Open House for 2013.
This is a long story.
This story starts with a long ride in the car.

It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Well, I am waaaay past that single step. In fact, I feel like I have already gone the whole thousand miles. Did you know it is 120 miles from my house to the vet school? Almost as bad as that is that is that it is 120 more miles just to get back home! That is 240 miles which might not be quite 1,000 miles but it is much too close for comfort, especially if you are a capybara and especially if you hate rides in the car.

A pool!

After the long ride, I was so very happy to see that there was a little wading pool for me to rest and relax in. I needed that. And you can see I also had a pile of hay to sleep on if I decided to get out. You might think that hay was for eating, but you’d be wrong, I don’t eat hay. One of my beds was there too, with a good chewing blanket.

My whole setup

This is what my whole setup looked like. That is my friend Elizabeth over there. She helped explain to the people all about me and capybaras in general.

A crowd of people

I wasn’t the only animal there, for one thing, there were lots of humans. But you can see the above crowd of humans is listening to Dr. Hoppes talk about her birds.

Dr. Hoppes and her sulfur-crested cockatoo

This is one of Dr. Hoppes’ birds. I think this bird’s name is Squaaawk!!! said at the top of your voice. At least that is what it sounded like. The visitors didn’t seem to mind but that bird’s loud voice startled me more than once.

Let's talk about hawks

The visitors also got to learn about hawks and other raptors and what they can do to fix up injured ones and return them to the wild. I’m not thrilled about hawks because they eat a lot of baby capybaras. I don’t suppose these ones ever get the opportunity but I’m sure they would if they could. Luckily, I am too large to be eaten by a hawk.

A young alligator

There was also a small alligator for people to gawk at. It didn’t do any gawking back. In fact, it didn’t even move all day! I am also not thrilled about alligators because their relatives, the crocodiles and caiman, eat a lot of capybaras, and not just babies! I am too big for this one to eat but it was probably spending the whole time plotting how to get to me next year when it is a little bigger.

Rehabilitating injured dogs

There was a demonstration on work that they do at the vet school to rehabilitate injured dogs. I guess they make them stand on giant balloons. The dog looks happy about it. I, on the other hand, am not happy about dogs. Sure, little dogs are okay, but this dog is big enough to hurt me, even if he is injured.

Hairy Screaming Armadillo

Then there was this weird animal. We didn’t get to see him when he wasn’t buried in his hay but even his back looks pretty cute. He is called a screaming armadillo because he can really scream. Here is a video of a screaming armadillo in case you’re interested. I don’t think this one screamed while we were they but it was hard to tell with all of Squaaaak’s squawking.

Baby African crested porcupine

I’ve saved the best for last! Here is a baby African crested porcupine, the world’s third largest rodent (if you count all the beavers as one). She’s just tiny but she had a real attitude. I think they had to keep her in a plastic box so she wouldn’t spine someone. Rodents rule! And it was wonderful not to be the only rodent around.

A face to love

She is a prickly animal with a prickly personality but a face that just makes you want to hug her, am I right?

In my pool

Back to me.

I spent most of the long day–six hours on exhibit–trying to relax in my pool. But I was sweating a lot and the pool water soon turned quite murky. Even so, I think people still thought I was cute. One of the most common questions was about why I was shaking. Well, you’d be shaking too if you had to spend the whole day at your doctor’s office, never knowing when she is going to shoot you with a dart, knock you out and work on your teeth! You’d be plenty nervous too.

Rolling to relax

Toward the end of the day, I was feeling comfortable enough to do a little rolling. I think the visitors liked that. If only they could see me in my pond or in my big pool!

Taking questions

Eventually I was brave enough to go up to the gate and let people pet me.

I wonder about some of those people though. Most were nice and asked intelligent questions or listened thoughtfully when Melly and Elizabeth talked. But one woman interrupted Melly and asked, “What’s its purpose?” Excuse me? What’s my purpose? What does that even mean? I could see Melly struggling not to say something mean (she has a real mean streak in her, you know). I would have asked that woman what her purpose was! (I’m pretty sure she didn’t have one.) But Melly went on to explain how capybaras are like the¬†hippopotamus of South America and that took up the rest of that group’s time so we didn’t have to listen to that mean woman anymore.

I’d be interested to hear what my readers think would be a good reply to a question like that. Leave a comment on this post if you have any ideas.

The long and winding road

Finally we were back in the car and headed home again. What a relief! But Melly and Elizabeth are already talking about taking me there again next year!

18 comments to TAMU, shmamu 2013

  • all God’s creatures have a purpose, we don’t always know what it is, but they have a purpose. :)

  • Stephanie Labbate

    I know it was a scary visit for you Gari, especially with that LONG car ride. It’s good you were brave enough to let people pet you. Don’t worry about the woman who asked a stupid question — it’s not worth your time or energy! Great story….and you had a pretty nice setup there for the day! You even showed off your rolling superpower!

    Good job!

  • Steven Harris

    Being fabulous.

  • Cyndi

    Being so cute and adorable!

  • Malkah

    Gari! You did so well! And clearly, your purpose is to be you. That’s all anybody’s purpose is. Mine is to be me! Yours is to be you! And Melly’s is to be Melly! That mean lady’s purpose is to ask rude questions. :)

  • Lynn

    What a great trip!

    I wondered why your toilet was being shown in a cage….till I saw alligator! Oops!

    I also loved the screaming armadillo video!!

    Nice that you relaxed at the end…how thoughtful of Melly to bring your pool.

  • Erika

    Thank you for sharing your visit, with all the pictures, and I really like the porcupine, too!! I love that you were so brave & adorable. And, as far as your purpose, I think making people happy all over the world, and being a capy ambassador, that is more than enough for anyone!! Kisses for your nose!! Thanks to Melly & Elizabeth for being awesome, too!

  • Jennifer

    “What’s its purpose?” I admit I laughed out loud when I read that. I think Melly should have said, with a perfectly straight face, that you are an ecologically friendly lawnmower, or that you help with the housework by rolling on the kitchen floor with your bristly coat, and are even better than a Swiffer mop. Remember, Gari, there are no stupid questions, only stupid people…

  • That woman was a meany -her purpose was to SHUT her mouth – and yours being who you are. If I was there I would have probably lost it and said plenty. Good for Melly to keep her lips sealed. You make me very happy and I bet everyone you come in contact with.

    You are a very special Capybara who lightens up all of our lives xoxo.

  • Liz

    Thanks for sharing your duties as a Capybara Ambassador. It’s a tough job, but someone has to step up to the task, and you do it quite well. Here’s to a job well done. /cheers

  • Laurie Coppola

    You did a great job, murky water and all!!! I’m so glad you made that long trip, so more people could learn about capybaras!!!

  • Lisa

    the only answer to that stupid question is something rude!
    what is anything’s purpose?!?!?!

    Gari your new purpose is to bite dumb dumbs like that in the face :-P

  • Pam

    Oh, Gari. Your purpose is to be YOU! No one else in this whole wide world, indeed, in this entire Universe can do that. You are the very best YOU there can possibly be. Additionally, you are a great capybara and rodent ambassador and educator. And most importantly, we adore you. So there is that. ;) Please just disregard the idiocy of certain apes.

  • Damien N Sally Chan

    Love the way you handle people – “I did it my way!”

    Good one!

  • Michelle

    Given the amount of time & money people spend with/on their pets, how can anyone show up at a VET school open house and ask any animal companion “What is it’s purpose?” Did she expect to see only livestock animals(food & hide purpose) at the Texas A (Agricultural) & M (Mechanical) vet school? Gari’s “purpose” is as a companion, just like your dog or cat, and I’d say his “job” is “teacher”: educating people about capys, their environment, what it takes to have an exotic pet (meeting Caplin & Melanie convinced me that I am better off as a visitor) – and that was a great teaching moment. I applaud you, Gari, for all that you do (even if Melanie has to translate)!

  • That lady was stupid & what a pointless questions. If you start asking what purpose everything has, humans don’t fare very well, as nothing does more harm to the planet than humans, so nearly everything else has a better purpose. I’m going to ignore her, because the rest of the day sounded quite interesting & I’m glad you felt comfy enough later in the day to let your fans get closer to you. Yes, I’m calling them fans, because how could anyone see you & not become one?
    That baby porcy is cute, but looks so vulnerable without all of her spines. The armadillo seemed to like the day even less than you, Gari. And good thing it was the dog standing on a balloon & not you, that looks hard to do.
    Next year is a long way off & maybe Melly will forget the date or something. ;)

  • Rawil

    Gari, your purpose is to let the people know about such nice animals as capybaras are. Keep doing this job as good as you currently do!

  • Janet Lutkus

    I must confess that I had the exact response to the “dumb question” as you did. But being in the position of having to be diplomatic, I probably would have asked her to explain what she was asking, as the question makes no sense. Some people do not communicate well, and I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt…I mean truly what IS HER purpose? What’s anyone or anything’s “purpose”? Very strange question. Some times you just have to quote the classic movie “PLAN 9 from Outer Space” and say “You people of Earth are idiots!”

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