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Capybaras in Japan are Reading Celeste!

Harry the Capybara

I was so excited when my friend Neighboring Wild (@nbwild) sent me a link to his blog showing capybaras and other animals reading my book, Celeste and the Giant Hamster! Look how cute little Harry is in the photo above. He even has a little tuft of hair on his forehead just like I do! Of course he’s still a baby so the zookeeper has to read the book to him. Plus it might be scary a little for a baby capybara to read alone.

The blog is in Japanese but even if you don’t understand the words, the photos are priceless.

Don’t forget to pick up your own version of Celeste and the Giant Hamster either on Amazon or here.

Memorable Memorial Day

Sunset at Capybara Creek

This was a long weekend here in the US, something called “Memorial Day.” It’s supposed to honor veterans and soldiers killed in the service of this country. I guess that sounds like a good idea, I mean those people are real heroes, but wouldn’t a better idea be not to have any wars? Maybe if everyone just took it easy they way they do on Memorial Day weekend all the time, we wouldn’t need a Memorial Day. Or at least we wouldn’t have to keep remembering new people. We should probably go ahead and remember all the people who already served and died. Just my humble capybara opinion.

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Capulet, the Stuffed Capybara

Sheldon put Capulet on my back

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, being Capybara Ambassador is the best job in the world. I get to go places and meet all kinds of interesting people and teach them about capybaras and rodents in general. It’s great fun. This week was a little different though, one of my internet friends, Michelle, actually came to visit me at my house. That has only happened once before when my friend Rezoner come over.

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The Front 15

Me in the Bluebonnets

This weekend my owner made this big deal about how we had to get my picture taken in the bluebonnets. Bluebonnets are the Texas state flower and it is like a ritual here for people to get their photo, or their kids or their pets photos, taken with the flowers. It helps that they are about the first flower to bloom in this part of the country and there’s not too much else growing at that time. I think she was so obsessed by it because the past two years, basically ever since I was born, we have been in a terrible drought and there weren’t any bluebonnets so I don’t have any baby photos with me in them.

Lots of people stop by the side of the road–including freeways, which doesn’t seem to safe to me–to get their bluebonnet photos. We are lucky in that we have them right on our property. So my owner determined to get me out for a long walk in the Front 15 (that’s what we call the 15 acres in front of our house) and plop me down in those flowers for a photo. Naturally, I put up a fight.

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Venezuela Hates Capybaras

 

Capybara family at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Capybara family at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

(Owner’s Blog)

In Febrary of 2007, my kids (Coral & Philip Waters) and I went to Venezuela. One of the places we went was a large ranch called Hato El Frio in the Los Llanos region. Los Llanos is often reffered to as the New World equivalent of the African plains. Such a tremendous abundance of wildlife! And among those swamps and plains roam the world’s largest rodents, the capybaras.

Capybaras have disappeared in parts of their range where they are over-hunted or where there has been significant habitat destruction due to farming, daming and deforestation. Hato El Frio was one place where they still occurred in large number due to the ranche’s progressive attitudes.

Hato El Frio (and Hato El Cedral, although I did not visit there) were experiments in sustainable ranching along with ecotourism. Dams were built to encourage wildlife to remain year-round and to provide more habitat for aquatic or semi-aquatic species. In addition, cattle and water buffalo were raised for meat. Capybaras were also “harvested” but in a sustainable manner. For decades the ranch maintained a science station that studied the affects of ranching on wildlife populations.

The following photos show some of the interesting animals that we saw on our week-long stay.

Tamandua or Lesser Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Tamandua or Lesser Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Giant Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Giant Anteater at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Rufous-tailed Jacamar at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Rufous-tailed Jacamar at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Three species of Ibis at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Three species of Ibis at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Scarlet Macaws Flying at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Scarlet Macaws Flying at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Howler Monkey at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

Howler Monkey at Hato El Frio, Venezuela

I could go on but you are probably wondering what the point is. So let me get to it. The Venezuelan government, under Hugo Chavez, has nationalized Hato El Frio and Hato El Cedral. See this article, Venezuela Coverts Tourist Destination into Farm Land.

I doubt that they are even now maintaining the Hatos’ programs to rebuild populations of the seriously endangered Orinoco crocodile, red-footed tortoises, Orinoco side-neck turtles or river dolphins. I doubt that they are concerning themselves with sustainability. These ranches have served as a beacon to the region as to what can be done to use the land while retaining wildlife. Now all of that is gone.

This is a terrible tragedy made even worse by the fact that most Americans–who live so close–don’t even know what the world is losing. Most Americans don’t even know what a capybara is. Caplin and I are devastated. No species is safe if people and governments don’t care.

(Follow this link to see more of my photos of Hato El Frio including more capybara photos.)