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More Sad News From Venezuela

Seems that this year there was a bumper “crop” of capybaras killed for consumption during the Catholic Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter. Link to article in Spanish.

Of course I hate the idea of anyone deliberately harming one of my relatives. It is actually hard to imagine since my owner loves me so much and I have so many adoring fans from all of the world. How could anyone do this to us? And worse is that this is not being done in a “sustainable” way. Larger human populations mean smaller habitats for wild animals and more demand for us as food and leather. Venezuela is squandering its natural heritage and that makes me so sad I can hardly eep.

Thank you to Yole from Venezuela for sending me this link, proof that many Venezuelans really do care about capybaras.

What I Am Not: A Fish

Me swimming like a fish

Of all the things I have been confused with, a fish must be the craziest. I am bringing this up now because it is almost Easter. This is a very bad time for wild capybaras and it is all because of us being confused with fish. Before we get into why, let me just go over some of our similarities and differences.

Some ways we are different:

  • Fish have scales, capybaras have fur
  • Fish breath with gills, capybaras have beautiful noses
  • Fish breath water, capybaras breath air
  • Fish have fins, capybaras have legs
  • Fish are exothermic (cold-blooded), capybaras are endothermic (warm-blooded)
  • Fish don’t have eyelids, capybaras have eyelids with beautiful lashes
  • Fish come in all kinds of crazy colors, capybaras, like almost all mammals, are a shade of brown
  • Fish don’t have ears, capybaras have very cute ears that we wiggle when happy

Some ways we are similar:

  • Fish and capybaras both swim underwater
  • Fish and capybaras are both vertebrates (have backbones)
  • Some fish and all capybaras have teeth

To be honest, there aren’t many similarities and I really skimped on the differences. To me, it is virtually impossible to confuse a capybara with a fish, but it has been done.

In fact, the confusion started in the 16th century when a group of monks convinced the “infallible” pope, that capybaras were fish just so their new converts could eat us during lent. For those of you who don’t know, there used to be a restriction against eating meat during lent, which is the 40 days leading up to Easter.  Since the converts weren’t going to follow this restriction anyway, the monks thought it would be better if the pope condoned it rather than having all of their new parishioners breaking the faith.

Venezuelans still eat lots of capybaras during lent and this makes me very, very sad.