In Memoriam: Garibaldi Rous

Love on Four Feet

Love on Four Feet

It is with the greatest sadness and pain that I am writting this short post to let you know that Garibaldi Rous died on Sunday, Feb.  16th, just shy of his fourth birthday.

As many of you know, Gari had been fighting a long battle with an infection in his teeth and jaw. When we last took him to the vet, on Thursday, Feb. 13th, he seemed healthy and we had every expectation that in spite of the traumatic removal of his first molar on the lower right, he would recover, at least temporarily. However, he had trouble coming out of the anesthesia and was still a bit groggy when we headed home from A&M. About a half hour into the drive, I called Dr. Hoppes to let her know that I was worried about him and hat his condition seemed to be deteriorating. She told me that the preliminary blood tests had come back and Gari had elevated levels of a kidney enzyme, something we had not seen before. However,  she believed that this, while not good, was not serious, and that it explained why he was having some much trouble recovering from the anesthesia. She believed he would probably feel better in the morning.

A noble profile

A noble profile

Over the next couple of days, Gari’s condition continued to deteriorate. No amount of water could quench his thirst. And he went from being able to walk, to stumbling, to having trouble sitting in the sphinx position. Dr. Hoppes suggested that we could bring him back to A&M for IV fluids but it was my call that this would only stress him more and not change the outcome. I did not want him to die in a cold, scary place. Instead Rick and I made him as comfortable as possible. We let him sit in his pool when he felt well enough. I slept on the floor with him and we showed him as much love as we could cram into the time we had left.

After Gari died, Coral, Philip, Monica and I drove his body back to A&M for necropsy. The official word came yesterday that Gari died of kidney failure. The infection in his teeth had spread to his kidneys. The anesthesia and pulling of the molar stressed his body beyond what it could take in his weakened condition.

World's best co-pet

World’s best co-pet

Ultimately, Gari’s death can be traced back to poor nutrition when he was a baby. It is very likely that an early case of scurvy, his small size when we got him at 10 months old, and his knocked “knees,” as demonstrated in the photo above, are classic signs of vitamin C deficiency.

I will be writing a longer, more personal eulogy for Garibaldi Rous next week. In the meantime, I do not intend on being online at all.

If you would like to show your sympathy or to help us understand the veterinary needs of captive capybaras, please feel free to donate to the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Veterinary Medicine.

The  Capybara Madness Store is also having a major sale: every item is just $5 and all proceeds will be donated to the ROUS Foundation. At the end of March, I plan on deactivating the store so if you want a plush toy, a tshirt, a pawprint or a puzzle of a capybara, now is the time to buy.

I am not sure yet what I am going to do with myself. After the eulogy, this website might not get a new post for a long time. Thank you for your support and for your love of capybaras in general and Garibaldi Rous in particular.


From  Dr. Sharman Hoppes, Garibaldi’s vet

Garibaldi typaldos passed away Sunday February 16 th from sepsis that occurred secondarily to his severe dental disease.  The infection and possibly the medications used to treat his infection, inflammation and pain damaged his kidneys resulting in renal failure. Due to the continuous growing teeth of capybaras and their need for vitamin c supplementation, they are prone to dental disease if their dietary needs are not met. Garibaldi had issues with his diet prior to Melanie and Rick obtaining him. Another factor affecting the severity of Gari’s  dental issues was metabolic bone disease. Prior to Melanie obtaining Gari he had limited exposure to sunlight which resulted in decreased bone density that predisposed him to the dental issues that ultimately claimed his life. Garibaldi was an amazing and sweet capybara. In spite of Gari’s current owners dedication to improving Gari’s husbandry and nutrition and in fighting this disease process. Garibaldi lost the battle. This is a sad lesson for all of us who choose to own exotic pets. We must all strive to learn as much about them as possible. Preferably before we bring them home. And with exotic pets we are continually learning. We need to learn about them in their natural habitats and do our best to mimic that environment in our captive setting. Although Gari had a short life, he had a full one, he loved his new owners and knew he was loved thru the end.


129 comments to In Memoriam: Garibaldi Rous

  • Tsunamicat

    Terribly sorry to hear of Gari’s passing, so very upsetting. I am also deeply concerned for your own health too Melanie & hope your grief & your health, recovers in due course. Take care of yourself.

    I have set up a little screen printing business & all my projects have some part of the profits go towards an animal or climate change charity/research. I hope you don’t mind me doing a small run project to raise funds for the ROUS Foundation. I will get in touch again when you feel more up to communicating & when I forward funds to you.

    Many hugs & take good care of yourself,


  • Mingles' Mommy

    Dear Melly & Family –

    My condolences on your loss. Thank you for sharing the joys of life with this precious, precious critter. You gave him so much – such a wonderful life, full of love and care and happiness.

    That’s all we can do for our furry family members.

    Our best to you all in this heartbreaking time.

    RJ, Mingles, BB & Lolo (one human mommy, three furry cat boys)

  • Janet Lutkus

    Dearest Melanie and family,
    I have no words to express my sadness. Thank you for sharing your joy and energy with these wonderful creatures and for sharing their stories and your energy with us. You gave so much and more than that, the establishment of the ROUS Foundation for Capybara Medicine. I hope you will take this time to take care of yourself and do some healing.

    You gave Gari all you could give him in the time you shared with him.

    Best to you,

  • Lynne

    Many condolences and I am very sad, for you and Gari. Please take care of yourself and don’t worry about keeping up with anything. Gari was blessed with your presence and love. That is the best we can give to our companions. I have never had a capy but I have had dogs and cats and horse over the years, and all we can do at the end is to be there for them. You did your best and I think you made the right decision in not dragging him back to A&M for a treatment that would prove futile and only add to his anxiety. Bless you and yours, and you will stay in my thoughts and prayers.

  • I am truly sorry to hear this Melanie. Gari’s posts (and Caplin’s before him) would always brighten my day. I cannot begin to imagine what you must be going through right now. I also want you to know that you made the best decision by deciding not to drive him back to A&M for IV fluids. I know that Gari appreciated how much you did for him in those last few days and throughout his entire life. He knew just how much you loved him! You will be in my thoughts! Please take care <3

  • Sue

    I’m so sorry to hear this. My condolences and prayers. Thank you so much for this website and sharing your story.

  • Beverly

    So very sorry, Mel….I understand the huge hole in your heart right now…..may it soon fill back up with the beautiful memories you will always have of sweet Gari.

  • Victoria wing

    I am truly sorry for Gari’s loss. I am devastated each time I lose one of my beloved pets.

  • Ann M. Bednarek

    My Dear Friend, Melanie, I’m sorry, I am SO VERY SORRY ABOUT YOUR SWEET GARI. As I write this, I am still hoping that I am going to wake up and find that I am just having a bad dream…….I cannot even imagine what you and Rick are feeling and going through. Gari will be missed by so many people and animals that loved him so much. Yesterday when I went on Facebook the first post was about Gari and I had to read it over and over because I did not believe what I was reading. My heart shattered into pieces as I continued to read on. I cannot stop crying. Gari was a very BIG part of my life. I never knew what a Capybara was until the day I saw you interviewed on the show, “My Crazy Obsession” I never knew an animal that cute existed. I joined Facebook to see more about him and I fell in love. Yes, my heart was stolen by Gari. He became the light in my life. He made me smile when I was having a bad day, and made me smile harder when I was having a good day. Every morning I would sit down in front of the computer with my coffee and see Gari’s cute posts. OH I MISS HIM!!!! It took a day for me to be able to post anything here because I am so crushed! And also hoping that I may have imagined this. Melanie please know that you were the best that ever happened to Gari. No one could’ve given him the wonderful life and love that you gave him right to the last minute… Melanie, I thank you with all my heart for sharing Gari’s life with all of us. And I thank Gari for your friendship, Mel. I will always be here for you if you need to talk or cry. We can cry together. I know you need time. That’s very understandable. I will always love Gari and continue looking at his pictures. You’ve created so many beautiful cherished memories. Sending you my love and sincere sympathy, your friend always, Ann Bednarek <3

  • Shannon Zapf

    Melly and Rick: Thank you so much for loving and caring for Gari. You gave him the four years that he never would have had if not for your dedication to him. I know he felt the love. I appreciate that you shared him with the masses. I learned so much from you about capybaras. I thought I already adored them, but you made me totally fall in love! Rest peacefully, Gari. Thank you for the laughs.

  • Chris

    I’m very sorry about your (our) loss and saddened by these news. I discovered this blog shortly after you got Gari, and seeing his photos and reading about his little adventures has brought me some happiness every day since. Even though I never got to meet Gari in person it feels like he was a close friend; I will miss him very much.

  • Heather

    I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that in addition to caring about Gari, all of us also came to care about you and your whole family. Please do consider keeping us updated on how you are doing as well. You all have brought so much joy to so many people by opening your lives to us.

  • Sarah

    As I scrolled down the page and saw the title of the post I didn’t want to believe it so I kept scrolling and came back, hoping it would go away. I am so sad to read Gari has passed. But my did you and all your wonderful pets give him a wonderful life!

    We all thank you for sharing his big personality with us and also educating us at the same time. May this blog comfort you as you remember the fun times with Gari. Your other pets will help you during this time too, be sure to give them all big hugs.

  • Julie

    I am so sorry for your loss. I was just looking for some info. out of curiosity on capybaras and came upon your site today. I have enjoyed looking around your website and seeing the wonderful pictures. Your dedication and love for your capybaras is admirable and uplifting. I think it was an episode of Zaboomafoo I watched when my son was a little guy that I first became aware of them. I’ve had guinea pigs before and ever since I saw the capybara piece, I thought they were so cool. May love and happy memories help to heal your grief. Thank you for your insights and knowledge and ‘capybara madness’!

  • Rosie

    Dear Melonie, I am Ann Bednarek’s sister. I just want to let you know that I am so sorry on the passing of your sweet, precious friend. May the hole left in your heart be filled with the love he had for you & the wonderful memories you made together. Please know you are loved by many.
    Gary, go play with your brother Caplin now.

  • N. Fritz

    I watched “Princess Bride” last night as homage to Gari. I’ll miss his noble spirit which Melly channeled in these pages. Thank you for giving him a voice!

  • Linda

    I am so sorry to hear of Gari’s passing. Before I got to know him through his pictures & stories of his daily life, I didn’t even know what a Capybara was. Thank you for sharing his life with. I have enjoyed his adventures & lets not forget his fun & inspired outfits. I, as do so many others, feel he added joy to my day when I saw there is a post to see what Gari’s up to.
    He is missed every day.

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  • Rebecca


    I’m very sad to hear this. Gari was loved around the world. Thank you for giving Gari his voice. Please take care and know that Gari was world’s greatest pet.

  • Thank you so much for sharing Gari’s story with all of us. His photos and videos certainly brought a smile to my face on a regular basis. I know how hard it is to lose someone you love. I hope you can make it through this difficult time. We will always remember Gari as a beautiful capy that touched so many lives.

  • Kristen from MA

    My deepest condolences to you and all of Gari’s friends and co-pets. He was a wonderful boy, and thank you for sharing him with us.

  • Barbara Brooks

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He was such a special capybara! It’s so sad that capybaras don’t live very long, even in perfect circumstances.

  • Dear MELANIE,-
    the loss now of GARI hurts so much and made me very sad,-
    but there is one important fact:
    You also have been able to develope LOTS OF LOVE for GARI,-
    and GARI developed and FELT DEEP LOVE FOR YOU !
    MELLY,-you have made GARI feeling that he is a beloved pet-capy.
    You gave him much attention and interest. And with this,you`ve made GARI feeling happy!
    My impression was ,that you became happy again : with GARI!
    Your respect of GARI`s own personality gave you the ability to love him.
    GARI has been such a wonderfull capy ,-I wished I could have meet him.
    Dear MELLY,-THANK YOU ,-that you shared your photos and videos
    of GARI with us ! For me,- they are like presents of you !
    I will never forget YOUR GARI in future! (as I never can`t forget CAPLIN)
    Please take care dear MELLY !
    Do never forget the LOVE of your GARI !!!

  • Betsy S

    So sorry to hear about your buddy. I loved seeing your videos and am sad that he’s no longer with you. Thank you for all you’ve done to help these animals and I hope you always have companions by your side.

  • Bia

    Isuflorane should have been used as anesthetic, obviously it wasn’t. he might still be with you had the vet used it or Sevoflurane. The safest anesthetics, it doesn’t stay in the body, not processed by the liver, as soon as you take the animal off it it wakes up!

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  • merit ramirez

    I just found your page and your darling photos. I am truly sorry to read about your loss of Gari. I first saw a capybara when I was about 15 at the San Diego Zoo and fell in love because I love rodents. I am 38 now and and would love to someday own a capybara. I just wanted to let you know that your pictures and videos have assured me that they can make great pets and be so gentle and loving to my whole family

  • frl margarita apfelbaum

    there re moments in this world just too sad too much too unbelievable , gari <3 in my heart forever

  • Audrey in Maryland

    Just happened to read about your loss of Gari. How sad – I know it still hurts. Both Gari and Caplin knew how much you loved them, and that is eternal. They have helped so many of us appreciate their uniqueness and beauty. I will remember Gari when we do the next “Peter Gurney Pet Memorial” in March on the Guinea Pig Daily Digest. Till then, I share your sorrow.

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