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