Countdown to Caplin Day: 10

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Popsicles were Caplin’s favorite treat

Melanie’s Post:

Caplin was born on July 10, 2007, a day that changed the world. At least for me. He died on January 3, 2011, a day that destroyed the world. For me, but also for everyone who had ever met him and even those who never got the chance. Caplin enriched the entire planet. He can ever be forgotten.

Logo for the ROUS Foundation

While Caplin’s death still hurts, something good did come of it. Thanks to the generosity of his many followers, I was able to start the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Veterinary Medicine

The ROUS Foundation is a charity in partnership with Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine. Caplin’s death was so unexpected and so devastating that I wanted to do something to help all captive capybaras to not suffer the same kind of early death.

At the time I established the ROUS Foundation, there was no place for an owner or a veterinarian to turn to for help when a capybara got sick. There was no one who had any experience with capybara medical care. There was no one who even knew what the normal values for capybara vital signs were. No one who had normal x-rays to compare against. No one who even knew how critical vitamin C is to a capybara’s diet.

Now we have Texas A&M as a repository for that knowledge and for consultations with veterinarians who have experience with capybaras. 

The ROUS Foundation has helped many capybaras over the past eight years. Because we go through A&M, we can only pay for veterinary services performed there, but we also cover blood tests, x-ray evaluations, and consultations. But the most frequent service we provide is, sadly, necropsies, the animal equivalent of an autopsy.

Over the years, the RF has sponsored over a dozen necropsies, each one revealing a little more about how capybaras die and consequently, how to keep them alive. We now know a variety of maladies that strike capybaras. Some, like cancer, cannot be prevented. Others, like scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) can be prevented by supplementing the diet with vitamin C, now a common practice.

Capybara growth

Another arm of the RF, not associated with A&M, is tracking weights of captive capybaras. The chart above shows how captive capybara growth compares with that of wild capybaras. This is vital information for assessing the health of young capybaras especially, but also of older ones. For example, in the month before his death, Caplin went from 110 lbs down to 100 lbs. This didn’t signal the alarm to me that it should have because I did not know how unusual this weight loss was.

The ROUS Foundation is now tracking dozens of captive capybaras’ weights. This has allowed us to help many owners correct their husbandry or to look into medical conditions preventing healthy growth.

While Caplin’s death was, an still is, unbearable to think about, at least it has resulted in some good. I would like to ask you all to make a small donation, every dollar counts, to one or both of the two aspects of the RF. Click this link to nake a tax deductible donation to capybara veterinary care at Texas A&M. You can donate to the RF Why Weight? program to provide free scales to study participants by transferring mo via PayPal.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the RF through the above mail address if you have any questions or comments.

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