An Amusing Account: When Donguri Gave Birth in 2008, at Nagasaki Bio Park. 日本語。どんぐりはもみじや楓を出産したときは

English translation of blog written by Nagasaki Bio Park staff in Japanese. All photographs by Nagasaki Bio Park.                               

When Donguri gave birth to her 3 pups, Momiji, Kaede and Akkun, on 10 September, 2008, she chose to have her babies on Capuchin Island, away from human intervention. She does not have a very high opinion of humans, and wanted to protect them and keep them away from the visitors, which is why she chose to have them on the island. She was most perturbed when the babies were removed from the island by the keepers, and taken to a special enclosure. She quickly followed them there.

This is a link to the original Japanese version written by Nagasaki Bio Park:

(I have kept some of the “Google translate” translations, as they give the flavour of the Japanese humour, and are easy to understand)

September 10, 2008, three capybara pups are born! “Donguri (Acorn)”is the mother, “Takeshi” is the father. (Donguri means Acorn in English.)

These days (at least since 2012) the female capybaras who are about to give birth are put in a separate enclosure, with strings across the top, to protect the newborn pups from crows. Perhaps in 2008 the pregnant capybaras were allowed to give birth in the main enclosure with the rest of the herd. Or perhaps the keepers didn’t realise that Donguri was about to give birth. Donguri is a very large capybara.

Donguri gave birth during the night, and chose to have her pups on the largest of the three islands in the pond, known as “Capuchin Island”. In the wild, capybara mothers go somewhere quiet to give birth, slightly apart from the main herd, in an area with vegetation which will offer some protection from predators. In captive situations, some people separate pregnant capybaras shortly before they give birth, for fear that the male capybaras will attack the pups. However, in reality there is little evidence of infanticide in capybara herds, and it is very stressful for a mother capybara to be separated from her herd. All the capybara fathers I know, have been excellent fathers, very involved, and helping to look after their pups.

When the keepers arrived on the morning of 10 September, and discovered that Donguri had given birth, they set about moving the pups to a separate enclosure for their safety. Donguri was not happy about this!

Donguri: “I hear a noise! What is happening by the pond?”

“Oh no, the keepers have arrived, and are watching me. I wonder what they want?”

Keeper: “First, in order to capture the babies, you must separate the mother and babies, for the time being.”
Keepers: “. ーDonguri, Horahora To~tsu I have gone a little beyond”
Donguri: “I am not happy with what you are doing. I cannot forgive you Fuga~tsu (angry)”
“I am usually a very calm, laid-back capybara. However, this time I will intimidate the keepers with a fierce bark. “
Splash!  Reluctantly I have been forced into the pond!”

Donguri stays in the pond. She watches intently to see what the keepers are doing to her pups, on Capuchin Island. She doesn’t want to go to an isolated enclosure, separated from the herd.

Donguri: “My babies, are they all right I wonder …”

Keeper: “Finally, we begin to capture the baby capybaras. We must not injure the babies.”

The rest of the herd vocalises loudly: “We must intimidate the keepers to protect Donguri and her babies”

Keeper: “Right! I have managed to catch one baby. This is very difficult, the pups move very quickly”.

“Finally, I have managed to catch the other two babies. If I don’t give them back to Donguri soon……”

Keepers: “Donguri, wait! Hurry hurry!

Keeper: “The 3 babies are captured. Everyone is safe. The crows did not cause any injuries, fortunately. The babies are very energetic, so I think they were born some time ago, perhaps just after the Biopark closed yesterday.”

Babies: “Where are we? Where is our mother?”

Donguri goes into this separate enclosure first, isolated from the herd. “Such excitement! This reunion.”
Donguri:. “Well I’m glad everyone is safe and sound. We are lucky! Now I will climb the rocky hill to get away from the humans. Let’s go!”

With that, the babies follow their mother, Donguri, up the mossy, rocky slope. “We are all very healthy!”

“Hey, wait Yo!”

たかさん– Taka san