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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.