Introducing Wesley and Fiona


Wesley and Fiona

I’ve been pretty depressed since Garibaldi Rous died. There are now two huge capybara-shaped holes in my heart and that is very, very hard to live with. I guess Rick sensed that when he suggested that we go visit the capybaras at the Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels, Texas, which is only about thirty minutes from our house in Buda.

Snake Farm Zoo

Snake Farm Zoo

The Snake Farm has been a roadside attraction for as long as I’ve lived in Texas. Over the years it has gone through a couple of owners. There was a time when I swore I would never go back but the new owners have fixed things up pretty nicely.

Snake Farm prices

Snake Farm prices

It’s not cheap, but then it is not cheap to keep so many animals either. And you get a two-for-one coupon every time you go so it is effectively half this price after the first visit.



You do have to kind of like snakes since there are a lot of them there. There are some pretty beautiful and unusual snakes on display, although it would be nice if they were labeled better. Also, the heavy wire mesh makes things safer for everyone but really detracts from the viewing.



Along with the snakes, there is a wide variety of other animal life. I’m just going to post a few photos of some of the cuter ones. (Remember, my vision is seriously compromised since my stroke so I may not know which animals are cute or which photos are any good.)

African spur-thighed tortoise

African spur-thighed tortoise

These tortoises are everywhere these days. People buy them when they are cute little 1 ounce babies that grow up to be 70 lbs or more and then they decide they can’t keep them. Also, tortoises live a long, long time so they are a big commitment. My leopard tortoise, Leopolda, weighs about 50 lbs and I’ve had her nearly 35 years. My son, Philip, is going to inherit her when I die (which was almost last year). So think about it before you buy a tortoise.

Mara or Patagonian Cavy

Mara or Patagonian Cavy

Maras are another large rodent. They are fourth in line for the title after capybaras, beavers and porcupines. If you just stuck some antlers on them, they would make perfect jackalopes.

Lion cub with Jessica Darby

Lion cub with Jessica Darby

Big cats are always the most popular animals at any zoo. The Snake Farm has two absolutely adorable lion cubs. Jessica Darby, who is in the cage with them in this photo, is their trainer. She also helps out with all of the other animals, including the capybaras. The two cubs seemed to love her.

Capybara enclosure

Capybara enclosure

This is the capybara enclosure where Wesley and Fiona live. They have a little capy cave and a set of steps leads up to a small swimming pool. Half of their enclosure is shaded, which must be nice for them in the summer when it gets very hot here.

Capybara sign

Capybara sign

It’s not a bad sign, fairly informative although the range depicted is not exactly right and I don’t think capybaras eat bark unless they are desperate. I prefer the translation of capybara as “master of the grasses” to translating their scientific name as “water pig,” but you can’t have everything.

Wesley and Fiona

Wesley and Fiona

Wesley is in the front with Fiona in the back. Wesley doesn’t have much of a morillo but he is not neutered.



The first thing Rick said when he saw Fiona was that she looks just like Gari. She does, doesn’t she? We talked to Jessica Darby about her and found out that both she and Wesley came from Kapi’yva Exotics, which is where Gari was born! Later I talked to Justin at Kapi’yva and he said that Fiona is Gari’s younger sister. Not only does she look like him, she acts a lot like him too. Just the sweetest personality and very affectionate.



Wesley is a little older than Fiona and is not related even though he was born at the same place. Wesley does not look at all like Gari. One reason for that is that Gari never looked thin and Wesley does. We talked to Jessica about that and she said that she is concerned that birds are eating all of the capybara food. Fiona does not look thin so it could just be that Wesley is more intimidated by peafowl than she is.



Here’s another shot of Wesley showing how thin he is. Rick and I suggested that they give the capybaras an extra feeding at night when the birds are asleep. Capybaras in the wild and in captivity seem to like a midnight snack. Hopefully that will help put some weight on him.

Another interesting thing about Wesley and Fiona is that they had a little baby capybara about six months ago, just a single baby in the litter. Jessica named her Mia. She had to hand  raise her because Fiona rejected her. I actually know who owns Mia now and I’ve seen lots of photos of her. She also looks just like Garibaldi! I am hoping to meet her when I go to the Blog Paws conference in Las Vegas in May.

I’m going to be posting more about Wesley and Fiona. They are going to help me survive until I can get a new capybara.

35 comments to Introducing Wesley and Fiona

  • Francine

    I saw the resemblance to Gari as soon as I saw Fiona! Anyone not used to capys would say they all look alike, but it isn’t true at all. I hope that Wesley puts some weight on. I’m sure some extra bird-free food will help.

    The pictures are great, you are doing a wonderful job!

  • Wendy

    Oh Melly it brought tears to my eyes when I saw Fiona and how much she looked like Gari. I can only imagine your feelings.

    Time heals a broken heart – twice broken for you – and seeing these beauties are the best medicine to help you heal. It all takes time.

    I also lost the closet person too me and your posts about Gari have helped me a lot since losing my husband. Take care Melly. xoxo

  • I am so glad to see you writing Melanie I think that is a good thing for you…you do such a great job..please do not give up that wonderful talent and the memories of your does not matter if they are dead,,people learn from your writings and can understand these creatures. Thank you for all you have done.

  • Donna

    Glad that you are able to get out and visit some capys nearby. It is a lot less work for you to enjoy them and you don’t want to wear yourself out too much. I look forward to the day that you can introduce us to your newest child, but until then, take good care of yourself. And you take great pictures. Your vision problems aren’t keeping you from sharing with all of us. I have great vision but can’t take a good picture of anything.

  • Tammy

    Thank you so much for the post about Wesley and Fiona. Fiona does look very much like Gari..We hope that Wesley will put some weight on soon. You did a great job with the pictures! I am so glad that you are visiting the Capy’s. That will help you with your grief.

    Take Care and we will be looking forward to your post about the adventures at the Snake Farm Zoo.

  • Julia Nelson

    Thank you for posting these. The pictures came out great. I hope these capys thrive under advice.

  • Kerry Anbe

    Did they take your advice? I hope so. Did you get to pet them? That would be nice.

  • Loved the photos and blog post.

  • Pat anderson

    Hi, so happy U have been to snake Farm, I haven’t been yet but will soon, as I live here LOL hope the holes in your heart are filling with you visit. Soooo happy to read your posts again. love ya

  • Lady J. Fingertips

    I am glad you got out and saw some Capybaras. Very nice blog post and photos. I hope Wesley puts on some weight.

  • Amy D

    That’s amazing you saw the resemblance! But I suppose capy siblings would look similar like a cat or dog siblings would. Glad Rick got you out. The pics are great.

  • Wesley does look thin, even more thin than me! I have always been thin, even though I weigh a lot. I don’t eat as much hay as I should, but I eat a lot of grass, dandelion greens, and, of course, bamboo! I have gained some weight by having extra potatoes, corn, and lettuce available at night. I do a lot of midnight snacking. Lately I have been enjoying bird seed, but cracked corn is a favorite treat, too. By the way, I do eat bark- the apple tree in my yard is protected by metal fencing, now.

  • So pleased you are within reach of these two gorgeous Capy’s Melly. It will be beneficial for them as well as you, if you can pass on your knowledge. Great pictures by the way. 🙂

  • Julianna

    Please continue to share posts like this. It was a nice surprise to see this. Your photography and comments are informative, interesting and often funny, even though I know it is not easy for you to compose. The animals at Snake Farm seem well taken care of. Nice to see Gari’s look-a-like sis, too <3

  • Georgi

    Mia and I can’t wait to meet you too! This is great, until you posted the pics I had only send the ones on their website 🙂

  • Fluffy, Nugget 'n Willie

    Hiya Mel! All us south Texas cappys DO like bark, especially fresh willow. Our parent people give us big leafy willow branches for something they call ‘enrichment’, but we call them DINNER. Our dad has planted a huge garden for people eats, but we know it’s all for us. Collard greens and carrots are our favorites. All three of us came from Justin, too, so we’re probably some of Gari’s family. Small world, full of big rodents!

  • Margie

    The pics are wonderful. So glad you were able to get out and about and see Fiona and Wesley. And exciting news that you will get to travel to Lost Wages (Las Vegas) next month. Enjoy Vegas.

  • Lisa Santiago

    WOW what a resemblance!…truly a treat to see these beauties! Thanks for sharing them!.

  • […] You can read the whole story here: Introducing Wesley and Fiona « Capybara Madness. […]

  • Thank you so much for posting about Wesley and Fiona. We are all missing Gari so much – it’s nice to see his little sister even though it made me cry.

  • Stephanie

    Good posting! Pictures were good and all the animals are cute! Glad you found these 2 beasties!

  • April

    Hi Melly! I live very close to the “Snake Farm” and it has really changed its focus quite a bit. The folks who work here do have great hearts and really try to do the best by the animals! Did you see the rat tunnel work way in some of the habitats? It’s really cool. Hey, the next time you visit if you’d like company I’d love to meet you there. I know it sounds silly. But, my kids and I would read about Gari together from your blog. He was a wonderful capy. You can contact me at adgratteau(at) Spam protection. Take care.

  • Kim

    How nice to see capys again! That’s great that they’re so close. It will be nice to have a place to visit while you recover, and I know Fiona and Wesley will benefit a lot from your experience. Your photos were great as always, no worries!

  • Mingles' Mommy

    Grief over a lost loved one takes its own time for all of us. In the meantime, how funny and wonderful that you actually get to see Gari’s family!!! They are all so sweet and hopefully as happy as he was.

  • Cheryl

    So glad that you went to visit Wesley and Fiona. I hope that it helped with healing the loss of Gari a little. I loved reading all about him. Hoping to hear more too. I hope also that you can get another capy as you seem to really love them like I love all my critters. All the best to you and Ri
    ck. <3 <3

  • Shannon

    This is wonderful, Melly! I am so glad that you went to see Fiona and Wesley, and that you were able to give Jessica some hints that may help Wesley gain a bit of weight. They are both gorgeous, and Fiona does look like Gari!! I hope it made you have some happy thoughts about him. And I do hope to see more about them…until you get that new capybara. Be well!!!

  • Barbara Brooks

    I’m so glad you got to see some capybaras. I hope it gives you some comfort after your loss.
    I am disappointed to hear that the Snake Farm has only 2 capybaras. I read that you need at least 3 or 4 females raised together for the capybaras to have normal parenting behavior. No wonder Fiona didn’t bond with her baby!

  • Connie Hillyer

    Melly, I’m so glad you have capys nearby! Nobody will ever replace Caplin or Gari, but it’s great that you can visit Wesley and Fiona. She sure does look like Gari! It’s great that you mentioned that “they are going to help me survive until I can get a new capybara.” I look forward to the day when you let us all know that there’s a new capy in your family!

  • kathi anne

    So nice to hear from you, I hope you are feeling better both physically and emotionally. When I heard that Gari had left us, I grieved for him and all of my own “babies” lost throughout the years. It really does leave a hole in your heart.
    I’m glad you got to see other capy’s, let alone…Gari’s sister!!? How cool is that! And how could she be anything but beautiful, being related to Gari?!
    Stay well, and hope you adopt a new capy soon!

  • Alex

    Glad to see you are writing again Mel. And doing good for other caybaras. Xxx

  • Ettina

    What does a capybara’s fur feel like? Does it feel like a guinea pig’s fur?

  • Garibaldi Rous

    Capybara fur feels like straw. The most common comment that people make when petting a capybara for the first time is that it is like petting a broom.

  • this just makes my heart smile.. I do hope you get to see Mia in May

  • Chanda Bellick

    Thank you for sharing about your trip, I really enjoyed the pics 🙂
    I’m sure you were thrilled to meet Gari’s sister, she does look so much like him.
    Please keep us posted on Wesley and Fiona and hopefully the night time snack will help Wesley put on weight.

  • […] part of the story of little Mia Davisson, the six-month-old niece of Garibaldi Rous and daughter of Wesley and Fiona at the 2014 BlogPaws conference. In the photo above, you can see Mia likes a nice soft bed but has […]

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