It is with the greatest sadness and pain that I am writting this short post to let you know that Garibaldi Rous died on Sunday, Feb. 16th, just shy of his fourth birthday.
As many of you know, Gari had been fighting a long battle with an infection in his teeth and jaw. When we last took him to the vet, on Thursday, Feb. 13th, he seemed healthy and we had every expectation that in spite of the traumatic removal of his first molar on the lower right, he would recover, at least temporarily. However, he had trouble coming out of the anesthesia and was still a bit groggy when we headed home from A&M. About a half hour into the drive, I called Dr. Hoppes to let her know that I was worried about him and hat his condition seemed to be deteriorating. She told me that the preliminary blood tests had come back and Gari had elevated levels of a kidney enzyme, something we had not seen before. However, she believed that this, while not good, was not serious, and that it explained why he was having some much trouble recovering from the anesthesia. She believed he would probably feel better in the morning.
Over the next couple of days, Gari’s condition continued to deteriorate. No amount of water could quench his thirst. And he went from being able to walk, to stumbling, to having trouble sitting in the sphinx position. Dr. Hoppes suggested that we could bring him back to A&M for IV fluids but it was my call that this would only stress him more and not change the outcome. I did not want him to die in a cold, scary place. Instead Rick and I made him as comfortable as possible. We let him sit in his pool when he felt well enough. I slept on the floor with him and we showed him as much love as we could cram into the time we had left.
After Gari died, Coral, Philip, Monica and I drove his body back to A&M for necropsy. The official word came yesterday that Gari died of kidney failure. The infection in his teeth had spread to his kidneys. The anesthesia and pulling of the molar stressed his body beyond what it could take in his weakened condition.
Ultimately, Gari’s death can be traced back to poor nutrition when he was a baby. It is very likely that an early case of scurvy, his small size when we got him at 10 months old, and his knocked “knees,” as demonstrated in the photo above, are classic signs of vitamin C deficiency.
I will be writing a longer, more personal eulogy for Garibaldi Rous next week. In the meantime, I do not intend on being online at all.
If you would like to show your sympathy or to help us understand the veterinary needs of captive capybaras, please feel free to donate to the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Veterinary Medicine.
The Capybara Madness Store is also having a major sale: every item is just $5 and all proceeds will be donated to the ROUS Foundation. At the end of March, I plan on deactivating the store so if you want a plush toy, a tshirt, a pawprint or a puzzle of a capybara, now is the time to buy.
I am not sure yet what I am going to do with myself. After the eulogy, this website might not get a new post for a long time. Thank you for your support and for your love of capybaras in general and Garibaldi Rous in particular.
From Dr. Sharman Hoppes, Garibaldi’s vet
Garibaldi typaldos passed away Sunday February 16 th from sepsis that occurred secondarily to his severe dental disease. The infection and possibly the medications used to treat his infection, inflammation and pain damaged his kidneys resulting in renal failure. Due to the continuous growing teeth of capybaras and their need for vitamin c supplementation, they are prone to dental disease if their dietary needs are not met. Garibaldi had issues with his diet prior to Melanie and Rick obtaining him. Another factor affecting the severity of Gari’s dental issues was metabolic bone disease. Prior to Melanie obtaining Gari he had limited exposure to sunlight which resulted in decreased bone density that predisposed him to the dental issues that ultimately claimed his life. Garibaldi was an amazing and sweet capybara. In spite of Gari’s current owners dedication to improving Gari’s husbandry and nutrition and in fighting this disease process. Garibaldi lost the battle. This is a sad lesson for all of us who choose to own exotic pets. We must all strive to learn as much about them as possible. Preferably before we bring them home. And with exotic pets we are continually learning. We need to learn about them in their natural habitats and do our best to mimic that environment in our captive setting. Although Gari had a short life, he had a full one, he loved his new owners and knew he was loved thru the end.