Donguri’s sweet personality, and gentle disposition have made her’s the most sought after bloodline in Japan. She is related to all the capybaras at the Bio Park except, of course, for the Boss Capy (the breeding male), Toku. She is their mother, grandmother, great grandmother or aunt.
She is the grandmother of many of the Boss (breeding) males at other zoos in Japan. The Nagasaki Bio Park bloodlines are highly prized in Japan because they breed to the capybaras with the most gentle, least aggressive character.
I could learn a lot from Donguri about patience and acceptance.
This is a video we made of Donguri http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWH7Ox8iL2c
The first year I visited the Bio Park Donguri mostly didn’t want to be pampered and scratched. She seemed quite happy to have me gently stroke her. I believe she was nervous that Aki would be jealous and take it out on her. Her sister Aki was number one in the Bio Park hierarchy mainly because she was a much more aggressive capybara than Donguri. (The following year, with Aki tragically no longer here, Donguri was much more relaxed and loved me petting her). I can still feel her warm, powerful body under my hand. It’s the first time I really felt a Capybara!
When we first started visiting the Bio Park, little baby Io and an adult capybara, who I assumed was his mother (I later found out that Donguri is Io’s mother), were always on Capuchin Island in the morning until the watermelons arrived. I think she wanted to protect her son from noisy human visitors. Towards the end of our time visiting the Bio Park, when I had established a relationship with Donguri, she was always sitting by OUR bench, when we arrived in the morning.
Being Pampered and looking so adorable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWH7Ox8iL2c
Donguri has a greenish tinge to her! This is because she spends so much time in the water keeping out of Aki’s way. She is surprisingly agile and playful in the pond, especially if Yasushi is around. She and her sister Aki are part of a love triangle, vying for Yasushi’s attention. Aki is a much more dominant character. She will bark at Donguri or chase her away if she feels Donguri is getting too close to Yasushi.
Donguri and Aki adore charismatic, handsome Yasushi. Donguri and Aki are sisters, but with quite different personalities. Donguri is the most sweet natured animal you could ever imagine. Aki is number one in the female hierarchy at the Bio Park. You usually only become number one through intimidation and size. Donguri is actually larger than Aki, so Aki’s position owes most to the fact that, unlike Donguri, she will fight her ground. In the love triangle, this means that Aki is always keeping an eye on Yasushi, making sure the other females, especially Donguri, don’t get too close to him.
Donguri patiently accepts this situation. Sometimes managing to lie beside Yasushi, sometimes resting her head on his body, sometimes nuzzling him under the chin, which Yasushi loves, sending him into paroxysms of bliss and ecstasy.
Donguri is Yasushi’s favorite. I always felt sorry for Donguri as she patiently waited by Yasushi’s side, hoping he would show some interest in her and nuzzle her. In many of my photos you can see Aki on the right nuzzling Yasushi, in the middle, with poor left out Donguri on the left. Yasushi is in ecstasy, he just loves being nuzzled under his chin.
Later Aki swims off coquettishly. Donguri lays her head on Yasushi’s body, hoping for a response. When he ignores her, she lifts her head.
You can watch this bitter sweet Capybara romance in this video. And, you can hear their love calls!
In this video you can see Aki just behind Yasushi, looking very superior, like a prim maiden aunt:
You can see the green tinge on the top of her body quite clearly in this video, “Pampering Donguri”:
From my Diary, 14th August 2012: I had a fabulous day. Donguri came over to me for the first time. And she rolled over and let me scratch her tummy.
Sunday 19th August;
A wonderful thing and a very disappointing thing happened yesterday. The wonderful thing came from an animal, the very disappointing thing from a human…what a surprise…
Donguri was waiting for us by the bench we always sit on when we arrived in the morning. After watermelon time she came and sat by us for over an hour until she was frightened away by some children. This is very unusual for her. Like many of the older Capybaras she doesn’t seem to especially enjoy being pampered. These older capys often sit away from the main pampering area, sometimes in semi-hiding, or disappear into the pond. Donguri usually heads for the pond after watermelon time. On this occasion she did not join the other Capybaras to eat watermelon but spent the time on top of one of the food troughs hungrily eating left over breakfast vegetables. She was obviously very hungry but must have sensed that Aki was in a particularly aggressive mood. I sneaked her a piece of watermelon when the keeper wasn’t looking. I will never forget the look of gratitude in her eyes. Capybaras have exceptionally expressive eyes and faces. The look was unmistakeable. It was a wonderful feeling knowing I had brought her such happiness, tinged with sadness realising how much she loves watermelon and yet so often she has to forego eating it because of Aki.
A video of Donguri Eating http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OxaGQ6jpGc
On the last Friday in August, after watermelon time, the capys were lazing around, snoozing and being pampered. I was sitting with Donguri, when suddenly she started calling very shrilly and plaintively. After a few of these cries she got up and walked toward Fujiko’s enclosure, still calling, followed by Ayu. None of the other capys reacted. She seemed worried (and I tried to reassure her!). Hinase was in the pond but came ashore soon after. I, of course, had not heard a thing. Capybaras communicate in the infrasonic and ultrasonic sound ranges, which humans cannot hear. Donguri is Fujiko’s mother, Ayu and Hinase are Fujiko’s daughters. So mother and daughters of pregnant Fujiko are very concerned about her and probably worried by her absence from the herd. She was removed from the herd, 3 weeks earlier, in early August because she is pregnant. She gave birth to 2 babies on 14th September.
When we arrived that morning the entire herd had been next to the boundary with Fujiko’s enclosure; calling plaintively.
The herd cannot see Fujiko but they can hear her. They are very worried about her. Every afternoon her daughters Ayu and Hinase go and sit at the boundary of their enclosure closest to Fujiko. In this video Donguri, Fujiko’s mother is sitting beside me by the pond, a long way away from the boundary. She suddenly starts to make these ‘very worried’ calls. She sits up and looks at me as if asking for my help to take her to Fujiko. (I so wish I had the authority to do this). Then she walks over to the boundary fence, followed by Ayu. Hinase who has been in the pond far away joins them. It must be very stressful for Fujiko to be on her own, especially as she is pregnant. Capybaras are such social animals.
藤子は、妊娠している。誰も彼女が出産する時期もわからない。彼女は3週間前に群れから離れて移動しました。群れは彼女を見ることはできません。群れは彼女を聞くことができます。非常に彼女を心配した。毎日午後娘あゆと日生は、エンクロージャの境界に座る。不二子に最も近い。このビデオで。どんぐり、藤子さんの母親は、池に私の横に座っている。離れて境界から長い道のり。彼女は突然、これらの “非常に心配” eepsを作ることから始まります。彼女は起きている。彼女は私を見ている。私の助けを求める。”藤子に連れていってください”。 （私はそう私はこれを行うための権限があればいいのに）。それから彼女は境界柵に上を歩く。あゆがついてくる。日生池になっています。遠く池。日生は、それらを結合します。それは不二子のために非常にストレスになる必要があります。不二子は単独です。そして、彼女は妊娠している。カピバラは、非常に社会的な動物です。
I find this video fascinating. Donguri is very worried because her daughter Fujiko has been taken away from the herd. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a3DZxFsFiU
Capybaras do seem to like to have their food brought to them and put right under their noses, rather than have to forage for it as they would in the wild.
Waiting for the watermelons to arrive in the photo below. Of course Donguri is not there…gentle Donguri would rather miss out on the watermelon she loves than face the intimidation from Aki.
On our last Sunday a whole crowd of children felt sorry for her and brought her pieces of watermelon and bought containers of pellets for her. It made me so happy to see how much people loved her and felt sorry for her
On one occasion when I was feeding Donguri, the rest of the herd left ‘en masse’ for the pond. Donguri started calling frantically. Either she was saying “Wait for me, I’m just coming”. Or she was saying to me “Please hurry up and feed me because I have to go”.
After watermelon time all the Capybaras had a nap. I sat beside her some of the time and then went to buy food pellets to feed her. Other people also brought her food pellets. I noticed that she always ate the pellets I placed under her nose even when she appeared to be asleep. But during her naptime she ignored the pellets brought by strangers and held under her nose. I know she was very hungry and I have tried to understand why she only took pellets from me. All I can think is that in her semi conscious state her brain processed the scent of a friend in a different way, that transcended the consciousness barrier.
Donguri adores Yasushi. She often follows him around in the pond, putting her head lovingly on his back, nuzzling him. She is his favorite.
Videos Of Donguri:
Donguri looks adorable as she picks over the bamboo. She waited till the other capybaras had pretty much finished, because she doesn’t like them fighting with her over the best bits. Consquently there wasn’t much left for her. I had already taken as many branches to her as I could pull off.
Donguri Looking Exceptionally Cute and Blissful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWH7Ox8iL2c
Donguri Eating Vegetables!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OxaGQ6jpGc
Donguri Eating a Stone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfRr94nL8WU
Donguri Being Petted and looking very sweet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brltiUUIhbM
Yamato is Donguri’s son. He has inherited her sweet placid disposition. He used to live at Torius Zoo,Fukuoka, but he moved to Omiya Park Zoo, Saitama, earlier this year, where he now lives with Koharu. They took to each other immediately and babies are expected. Yamato would be the ideal Boss Capybara (breeding male) at a leading zoo. He has such excellent personal traits and character.
Here’s a video of Yamato pretending to be a guineapig. (Video made by Motoko Iwata, Persiamoco on Youtube)
I do miss her. She is so calm and patient…an excellent role model for humans