Yasushi, The Most Magnificent Capybara. We Humans Failed You. 康、最も壮大なカピバラ。私たち人間は. 人間はあなたを失敗しました。私たちはあなたを殺した。

It breaks my heart to see that honest, sweet, trusting look in your eyes, when so many people failed you. 

Yasushi looks so appealing. He wants us to be his friends but we failed him. What does that say about us as humans

Yasushi looks so appealing. He wants us to be his friends but we failed him. What does that say about us as humans

Yasushi, the most fabulous capybara in the world has just died (December 19, 2013) and I am absolutely devastated. He should never, ever have been put alone in a cage as if he was an art object and not a living creature with feelings and emotions.  It was absolutely unforgivable.

Yasushi died of depression.  Such a tragic end for such a sweet, gentle, trusting capybara.

He was the most wonderful and outstanding capybara. He always worried about the rest of the herd when they escaped from the enclosure. He would walk along the boundary fence trying to keep as close to them as possible with a very concerned look on his face, trying to give them as much support as he could.

Capybaras are intensely social animals, and Yasushi was one of the most friendly and gregarious capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park. For three years he was surrounded by adoring females who loved to be with him, to rub their heads on his face or on his back, to nuzzle  him under the chin, which he absolutely adored, to nibble him tenderly, and to make love to him. Thousands of visitors came to see him; they loved petting him, watching his amazingly long hair rise till he looked like a giant puffball. He was so responsive to their pampering, such a rewarding capybara to spend time with. I don’t understand how anyone could put Yasushi into an enclosure all alone and not realise how much he would suffer.

It breaks my heart to see that honest, sweet, trusting look in his eyes, when so many people failed him.  Doesn't he have the sweetest eyes. Kyoto zoo built a special enclosure for him, so I'm sure they had the best intentions for him. It seems hard to believe that they wouldn't have also understood his emotional needs.

It breaks my heart to see that honest, sweet, trusting look in his eyes, when so many people failed him. Doesn’t he have the sweetest eyes.
Kyoto zoo built a special enclosure for him, so I’m sure they valued him at some level, perhaps they even thought they had the best intentions for him. It seems hard to believe that they wouldn’t have also understood his emotional needs. I think perhaps there is a need for those in authority in Japan to be more receptive to new information.
This is a photo of Yasushi taken at Kyoto zoo before he died on December 19.

As I lay awake last night I found myself wondering what Yasushi thought when he found himself all alone in solitary confinement. He must have felt extreme anguish looking out at the visitors peering at him, wondering why they didn’t want to come over and pet him. “Why are the people keeping their distance, don’t they care about me any more, why don’t they want to be near me?”

Our Video: 

In Honour of Yasushi We Will Never Forget You  康の名誉中 私たちはあなたを決して忘れないだろう

昨 晩、私は動物(そして、人間のコミュニケーション)について、本を読みました。 動物のコミュニケーションについて書かれる全部の本のために、あなたは、コミュニケーションが動物と人間にとってひどく重要であると理解するでしょう。 しかし、一人で生きている動物は、通信する相手を誰も持っていません。 動物から彼の人生のそのような重要な側面を奪うことは、きっと彼らを滅ぼします。 私が理解することが完全にできないものは、一人でヤスシを構内に入れるという決定をした人々がそれが感情的に彼の上に持つ破壊的な影響をなぜ理解しなかっ たかということです。 それは残酷でした。 私は、彼らが残酷であると思わないと確信します。 人生における私の任務は、このような人々が動物の感情を理解しなければならなくて、彼らの世話において動物のたちへの愛と尊敬で行動しなければならないと いうことです。

Last night I read a book about animal (and human communication). For a whole book to be written about animal communication you will understand that communication is desperately important to both animals and humans. But an animal living all alone would have no one to communicate with. To deprive an animal of such an important facet of his life would surely destroy him. What I completely fail to understand is why the people who took the decision to put Yasushi into an enclosure all alone did not understand the devastating effect it would have on him emotionally. It was cruel. And yet I am sure they do not think they are being cruel. My mission in life is that people like this should understand animal emotions and act with love and respect towards the animals in their care.

 

これは、私が昨年ヤスシについて私のブログに書いたものです – 彼は驚くほどの派手な長い髪と穏やかな性格に育ち、寛容な個性をもっている男性として素晴らしいカピバラです。 私は、彼が新しい血によるボス・カピバラとしてとって代わられるとき、何が彼に起こるかについてわかりませんでした? 私は彼が女性のカピバラと交際することに関して少なくとも1人の女性と大きな構内(エンクロージャー)を持つことを望みました。そうすると、彼は年老いてから、幸福に老後を生き抜くことができます。
私は、長崎バイオパークと京都市動物園がこれを読んだこと(読んでくれること)を願います。

This is what I wrote in my blog about Yasushi last year:  Yasushi is a magnificent capybara to have as the breeding male, with his amazingly flamboyant long hair, and gentle, tolerant personality. I wonder what will happen to him when he is replaced as boss capybara by new blood? I hope he will have a large enclosure with at least one female for company, so that he can live out his years joyfully into old age.

I wish the Bio Park and Kyoto Zoo had read this.

Yasushi loved being nuzzled and caressed by the female capybaras. The female capybaras loved nibbling Yasushi and rubbing their heads against his nose, lips and across his back. They all wanted to mate with him, especially Aki, Donguri and Momiji. Aki was powerful and jealous and it always surprised me that any of the other capybaras ever produced babies, she guarded access to him so fiercely.

Yasushi loved being nuzzled and caressed by the female capybaras. The female capybaras loved nibbling Yasushi and rubbing their heads against his nose, lips and across his back.
They all wanted to mate with him, especially Aki, Donguri and Momiji. Aki was powerful and jealous and it always surprised me that any of the other capybaras ever produced babies, she guarded access to him so fiercely.

私は知っています。多くの日本人が理解していないそれらのこと、そしてアメリカでは少なくともある程度の数の人たちが意見を述べる用意ができています。そ して私は、それらのもの(こと)が変わる、カピバラが単独で決して収容(動物園などに)されないようにと固く決意しています。(行動していくこと)

甘やかされているヤスシ。 彼が満足することと、楽しむことに富を得て、私は彼の目がその快楽にふける輝きが好きです。 彼は、素晴らしく表情豊かな顔がありました。Yasushi being pampered. I love that sybaritic glint in his eyes as he gives himself a rich to enjoying the pampering. He had a wonderfully expressive face.

甘やかされているヤスシ。 彼が満足することと、楽しむことに富を得て、私は彼の目がその快楽にふける輝きが好きです。 彼は、素晴らしく表情豊かな顔がありました。Yasushi being pampered. I love that sybaritic glint in his eyes as he gives himself over to enjoying the pampering. He had a wonderfully expressive face.

I often daydreamed of Yasushi coming to live with us when his time as breeding male was over.   In August 2012 on our first visit to the Bio Park I  met Yasushi  and fell under his spell. When I heard Yasushi had gone to Kyoto Zoo and was living all alone I used to fantasise that I persuaded the zoo management to let me spend the day with Yasushi in his enclosure pampering him and providing him with some companionship. This would have made a much more interesting “exhibit” for the visitors as Yasushi rolled and frolicked with pleasure as I petted him. Much more entertaining than watching a sad and lonely capybara desolately picking at his food and going in and out of his small pond in a disenchanted way.

Yasushi often looked vulnerable, as if something frightening had happened to him in the past. I rarely saw him with the relaxed and happy look that most capybaras express when they are resting stop However Yasushi adored to be pampered and petted, and he was at his happiest rolling on his side, with his head thrown back, his lips slightly parted and his teeth showing in an expression of sheer bliss. His response and his ecstasy were so manifest that nothing gave me greater pleasure than to make him happy.

Yasushi often looked vulnerable, as if something frightening had happened to him in the past. I rarely saw him with the relaxed and happy expression that most capybaras have when they are resting. However Yasushi adored to be pampered and petted, and he was at his happiest rolling on his side, with his head thrown back, his lips slightly parted and his teeth showing in an expression of sheer bliss. His response and his ecstasy were so obvious that nothing gave me greater pleasure than to make him happy.

私は、日本の人々に動物には感性と感情があって、知的であると思って欲しいです。 我々とカピバラのような哺乳類には非常に類似した脳構造があります、そして、彼らは同じ神経化学物質を持っています。

Sniffing Aki's Bottom, Something He Loved to Do!

Sniffing Aki’s Bottom, and rubbing his morillo on it.  Something He Loved to Do!

.私は京都市動物園が許せません。私は1か月前に彼らにヤスシについて助言をしました。彼らは最善をつくすと言いましたが、カピバラを一頭で飼育していること自体間違いです。最近の日本は何でも資本主義でお金儲けばかり考え、大事なことを忘れています。日本という国、そしてあまりにバカな日本人が多く許せません。どんなことでも資格があればプロとみなされ、技術があっても資格がなければ仕事することが許されない社会など間違っています。そこには単なる国の金儲けが存在します。あまりにいいかげん、あまりにプロ意識のなさ、お金中心に考える人たち、すべて許せません。

My friend, Koji Anderson, contacted Kyoto Zoo and explained to them that Yasushi would need a companion otherwise he would die of loneliness. Unfortunately the zoo ignored his advice. I wish they had understood that Yasushi would become very depressed and have nothing to live for if he was kept all alone in solitary confinement, like a prisoner.

Yasushi was such a Thoughtful and Concerned Capybara. He seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, responsible for the happiness of his herd. I felt that he felt he could never really relax except when he was being pampered. He always had to be sufficiently alert in case some danger or accident befell one of the other capybaras and he would need to take charge. If any of the capybaras escaped from the enclosure he became extremely worried. An anxious look spread over his face and he would walk along the boundary fence staying as close to the escapees as possible, ready to give them his support if they became frightened. He was a true gentleman.

Yasushi was such a Thoughtful and Concerned Capybara. He seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, responsible for the happiness of his herd. I felt that he felt he could never really relax except when he was being pampered, or frolicking in the pond with the females and making love.  He always had to be sufficiently alert in case some danger or accident befell one of the other capybaras and he would need to take charge.
If any of the capybaras escaped from the enclosure he became extremely worried. An anxious look spread over his face and he would walk along the boundary fence staying as close to the escapees as possible, ready to give them his support if they became frightened.
He was a true gentleman.

He was such a special capybara, he deserved to live out his life with love and dignity.

Little baby Io nuzzling his daddy Yasushi. Yasushi always had time for Io and loved to play with his little son in the pond. He would even break away from his lovemaking, how many humans fathers would do that. Io used to nibble Yasushi's ear which Yasushi loved. He would go into paroxysms of bliss, his hair raised and sink beneath the water, looking completely out of it so much pleasure did Io's nibbling give him. Io seem to know that Yasushi loved to have his ears nibbled.

Little baby Io nuzzling his daddy Yasushi. Yasushi always had time for Io and loved to play with his little son in the pond. He would even break away from his lovemaking, how many humans fathers would do that. Io used to nibble Yasushi’s ear which Yasushi loved. He would go into paroxysms of bliss, his hair raised, and sink beneath the water, looking completely out of it so much pleasure did Io’s nibbling give him. Io seemed to know that Yasushi loved to have his ears nibbled.

I used to sing to Yasushi when I pampered and petted him. I hoped that he would remember my voice and recognise me. I hope he liked my singing!

Yasushi was always ready to share his watermelon with his little son Io.  Donguri is Io's mother. When Yasushi took his afternoon nap Io would come over and join him, often clambering over his nose and waking him up. Yasushi never protested, he was a very tolerant capybara. There seemed to be a special bond father and son, and Io often sought out Yasushi's company; he was always welcomed.

Yasushi was always ready to share his watermelon with his little son Io. Donguri is Io’s mother. When Yasushi took his afternoon nap Io would come over and join him, often clambering over his nose and waking him up. Yasushi never protested, he was a very tolerant capybara. There seemed to be a special bond between father and son, and Io often sought out Yasushi’s company; he was always welcomed.

He produced the most wonderful babies for the Biopark;  they have inherited his outstanding characteristics, and respond to being petted more than the other capybaras and have his amazingly long hair. In particular Kin, Gin, Syu and Autumn.

He was such a gentleman with such good manners sharing his watermelon in a way that Toku, the new Boss Capybara, never would.

靖は幸せです。人々は彼を甘やかす。Yasushi in heaven. He so enjoyed being pampered.

靖は幸せです。人々は彼を甘やかす。Yasushi in heaven. He so enjoyed being pampered.

Yasushi Relaxing after his Mud Bath

Yasushi Relaxing after his Mud Bath

Yasushi was always surrounded by adoring female capybaras in the pond, caressing him, nibbling him, wanting to make love to him. He must have been devastated to find himself all alone in a small enclosure in Kyoto Zoo. This video is public.

Yasushi smiling.  He so loved to be pampered and the visitors to the Bio Park so loved pampering him because he was so responsive.  康は微笑む。訪問者は、靖ペットが好きだった。彼はとても反応が良かった。これは訪問者に莫大な報酬だった。

Yasushi smiling. He so loved to be pampered and the visitors to the Bio Park so loved pampering him because he was so responsive.    I’m certain he never smiled in Kyoto Zoo. 康は微笑む。訪問者は、靖ペットが好きだった。彼はとても反応が良かった。これは訪問者に莫大な報酬だった。

Romantic Capybaras. Nagasaki Bio Park ロマンチックなカピバ     

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86MXl0-BUIM

I want people in Japan to understand that animals have feelings and emotions and are intelligent. Mammals  (capybaras are mammals, humans are also mammals) all share very similar brain structures, that means Capybara brains are similar in many ways to human brains,  and their brains have the same neurochemicals.私は、日本の人々に動物には感性と感情があって、知的であると思って欲しいです。 我々とカピバラのような哺乳類には非常に類似した脳構造があります、そして、彼らは同じ神経化学物質を持っています。

Animals should be treated with love and respect;  they are our friends not our servants.   They are not entertainment; they are not here to entertain us.  (Manifesto for International Animal Protection Group):

Animals suffer when their needs and expectations and desires are not met. All mammals (humans and animals) have the same structures in a part of the brain called the limbic system, which is primarily responsible for our emotional life and the formation of memories. Mammals also share the same neurochemicals that are important in processing emotions. Animals may well experience some things more intensely than humans.

We should treat them with respect and love. They deserve no less. No human should cause suffering to an animal in the pursuit of their own interests.

Animals are not objects. Animals are not property.   We do not own them. There has been a paradigm shift among scientists who study ethology, animal behaviour. With the aid of new technology like functional MRI, scientists have come to understand that animals have emotions and feelings and are intelligent.

We know animals suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, they suffer the same symptoms that humans do.

Animals have a point of view.

Tread lightly when stepping into their lives and their homes/habitats.

Animal manifesto: “Treat us better or leave us alone”.

Most animals have done very well without us.

すべての日本の学校の中で学習のカリキュラムに取り入れるべきであるは言っています。I think this book should be required reading on the curriculum of all schools in Japan.   http://www.amazon.co.jp/動物の命は人間より軽いのか-世界最先端の動物保護思想-マーク・ベコフ/dp/4120036537

すべての日本の学校の中で学習のカリキュラムに取り入れるべきであるは言っています。I think this book should be required reading on the curriculum of all schools in Japan.
http://www.amazon.co.jp/動物の命は人間より軽いのか-世界最先端の動物保護思想-マーク・ベコフ/dp/4120036537

This is what I wrote last year, it is never to be: Magnificent Yasushi. I hope he is voted ‘Most Popular Capybara in Japan’ one day; he so deserves it with his charismatic personality, gentle nature, exceptionally expressive face and amazingly long hair.

There must be a better future for retired Boss Capybaras than solitary confinement.

Everything about him was exceptional;  I wish he had had many more children.

The Biopark have said that Yasushi will be commemorated in the grave at the Biopark and have a memorial service (at least I think that’s what they said):   Message from Bio Park  他園での死因や飼育方針などについては当園はコメントする立場にありませんが、当園では死亡した飼育動物のために慰霊碑を建立し、定期的に慰霊祭を開催して供養を行っております。本のお薦めにつきましては、ご意見として承りました。コメントありがとうございました

I replied: “Thank you very much. Yasushi was such a magnificent capybara, I just wanted him to be honoured.  He produced such wonderful babies, Kin, Gin, Syu and Autumn – so gentle, who loved to be petted as much as Yasushi did, and they inherited his beautiful long hair. Perfect capybaras for the Bio Park.  I hope Syu will carry his genes to future generations.

Thank You Very Much Koji Anderson for the Japanese Translations

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Donguri, The Perfect Capybara. どんぐり、パーフェクトカピバラ。

Donguri with her Bedroom Eyes. Her Compelling, Come Hither Look Along with Her Sweet Gentle Nature Attracted All the Males.   色目。カピバラのオスの愛のドングリ

Donguri with her Bedroom Eyes. Her Compelling, Come Hither Look Along with Her Sweet Gentle Nature Attracts All the Males. 色目。カピバラのオスの愛のドングリ

Donguri and I struck up a friendship last year, 2012, on our first visit to the Bio Park. We visited every day for a month and she came to see me as her benefactor in the days when her younger sister Aki ruled over the herd and did her best to make Donguri’s life difficult and uncomfortable. Donguri hates to fight, she is a very wise and peaceful capybara. Despite her lack of aggression she was a natural candidate for number one position in the hierarchy at the Bio Park.   Realising that Donguri was her main rival  Aki frequently intimidated her and made her feel persecuted and uncomfortable. Donguri would just put her head down and wait patiently for Aki to go away, giving a visible sigh of relief once Aki’s threat had passed.

Since Donguri didn’t want to fight she remained outside the Bio Park hierarchy.

Donguri nuzzled by Choco. Her grandson. She absolutely adored it and held her head up expectantly for quite a while after he had walked away

Donguri being nuzzled by baby Choco. Her grandson! She absolutely adored it and held her head up expectantly for quite a while after he had walked away

At watermelon feeding time Donguri would often sit alone, away from the feeding area eating leftover vegetables. She adored sweet watermelon (rodents are addicted to sugar and sweet things) so the threat of Aki’s intimidation must have been a very powerful deterrent for her to avoid joining in the watermelon feast with the other capybaras.  One time I took her a particularly large and juicy piece of watermelon;  she looked up at me with such gratitude in her eyes.  That look of gratitude will stay with me for the rest of my life. I fed her regularly that summer, and I often wondered how she reacted when I suddenly disappeared at the end of August. I think my answer came on our return visit in August 2013.

Donguri being fed by me. She Has Such a Sweet Look On Her Face. 私はどんぐりを養う。甘い、かわいい顔.

Donguri being fed by me. She Has Such a Sweet Look On Her Face. 私はどんぐりを養う。甘い、かわいい顔.

Donguri was very cute when we arrived back in 2013. She completely ignored me and pretended she didn’t know me. Even when I fed her some bamboo she looked away as if I was a complete stranger that she had no interest in. This was my first clue that she knew exactly who I was and that she was playing games with me because I had abandoned her for so long. When other people fed her bamboo she looked at them with a very sweet, grateful twinkle in her eye. By ignoring me when I fed her bamboo she was making a point.   Capybaras are very emotional and jealous and she would certainly resent the fact that I had forsaken her for eleven months.

Then I noticed she was watching me constantly as I petted the other capybaras, which is exactly what she did last summer, making me feel quite guilty that I was being unfaithful to her (anyone who has lived with guinea pigs will know all about rodent jealousy).   So I ignored her for about an hour and then went back towards her. As I approached she looked up at me with a very warm and welcoming expression on her beautiful, loving and captivating face. As I started to pet her, her hair rose and she rolled over. This is quite unusual behaviour for Donguri because last year she did not often respond to being petted. Last summer there were only three or four occasions when Donguri went into that blissful state with her hair raised.

Donguri Being Petted by Me.  ペットどんぐり

Donguri Being Petted by Me. ペットどんぐり

On this occasion her state of bliss lasted much longer than usual, I think she was really pleased to see me again. After I finished petting her she followed us over to the seat where we always sit, and sat down beside it. I bought her a container of pellets and fed them to her one by one. She looked so happy.

“This video was made in July 2015 after Donguri and I hadn’t seen each other for 10 months. I was so pleased she recognised my voice. And I was so happy to see how her hair rose when I knelt down beside her. I am the only person who puts a cushion down to kneel on and the sound of the air being squeezed through the plastic bag reawakened her memories of our happy time together last year in 2014.

Donguri is now the Fifth Oldest capybara in Japan. She was born on September 30, 2005.  She is number one in the Bio Park hierarchy and is the great grandmother, grandmother, or mother of almost all the capybaras at the Biopark and many of the capybaras at other zoos in Japan. She is gentle and wise and avoids aggression unless absolutely necessary. Some capybaras become number one in a hierarchy because they are the most aggressive. In Donguri’s case it was because she is a natural leader, always concerned about the health and well-being of the other capybaras in her herd.

 

It is very bittersweet watching this video now as our visit to the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park has come to an end. I am very, very sad. I always worry I won’t see Donguri ever again because of her age. She is such a very special capybara and she has taught me so much about capybaras.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA0RPQ4-WRk

 

Sweet, gentle Donguri. The more time I spend with her the more impressed I am by her. She was in a very playful mood that first day, and indeed on many subsequent days. She is easily the most playful capybara at the Bio Park, except for the babies Choco, Doughnut and Macaroni of course. I would not have expected a great grandmother and the oldest capybara by four years to be so playful.

I find it amazing just how playful capybaras can be, especially a great grandmother like Donguri. In this video Donguri swims under Momiji and throws her up out of the pond playfully. This was filmed on the first day that Momiji and the babies were allowed out of their separate enclosure, and entered the main petting enclosure, meeting humans and all the other capybaras for the first time.  I think Donguri was rejoicing in their return to the herd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFRw2gfptpc

I came to realise she is celebrating her new found freedom and supremacy. At last she can express herself and be completely relaxed, free from the threat of Aki’s aggression. She can indulge in the little luxuries that were denied her before, like rolling in the mud when there is mud. She is so much more relaxed this year, I hadn’t realised what a burden Aki’s presence placed on Donguri’s happiness and liberty.

Donguri Enjoying Herself in the Pond.  どんぐり池を楽しんで

Donguri Enjoying Herself in the Pond. どんぐり池を楽しんで

Donguri notices everything that goes on in the petting enclosure. She takes great interest in what the capybaras are up to and also what the humans are doing. I feel sorry for her that so much of her life is controlled by humans. On one occasion when Donguri went over to visit Toku she was particularly anxious to go inside his enclosure and be with him.  Toku is the Boss Capy, the breeding male and only adult male capybara at the Bio Park; he is in a separate enclosure segregated from the main herd.  Last year, the breeding male, Yasushi, lived amongst the herd and was accessible to all the females, Aki willing, since she didn’t like to share him.

Normally Donguri is a very placid, accepting capybara. If she is confronted by a situation that is not to her liking and she will put her head down and go to sleep and try to forget about it. Whereas the other capybaras express their frustration: they gnaw at the bars of the fence, stand up on their hind legs looking over the top of the fence, walk up and down and call stridently.

This is Donguri in 2012 when Aki was in power. Her demeanour is quite different to how she is now, now that she reigns supreme. Here she is holding her head down in a submissive pose with little expression in her eyes as if she was trying not to attract Aki's attention. Aki was always picking on her and trying to intimidate her, realising that Donguri posed the biggest threat to her supremacy. This year she looks proud and confident, with her very expressive face held high, watching over the herd. It has been quite a transformation. August 2012

This is Donguri in 2012 when Aki was in power. Her demeanour is quite different to how she is now, now that she reigns supreme. Here she is holding her head down in a submissive pose with little expression in her eyes as if she was trying not to attract Aki’s attention. Aki was always picking on her and trying to intimidate her, realising that Donguri posed the biggest threat to her supremacy. This year she looks proud and confident, with her very expressive face held high, watching over the herd. It has been quite a transformation.
August 2012

On this occasion she began to bite the bars of the fence separating her from Toku. I have never, ever seen Donguri biting the bars of a fence before. When she realised the fence would not give way she turned to me and looked up at me with a pleading look in her eyes, asking for my help. She knew humans controlled the entry gate and could give her access. I felt so helpless. I couldn’t explain to her that even though I was a human I did not have the authority to open the gate for her.

This video captures this scene:   http://youtu.be/rvtJAKtnFs8

Donguri Looking so Sweet and Innocent.  甘くて無実

Donguri Looking so Sweet and Innocent. 甘くて無実

Now at last Donguri has taken her rightful position as number one in the female hierarchy at Nagasaki Bio Park. I would love to have been there to see how this came about. I’m certain she would not have resorted to the level of aggression that most capybaras would need, to assert their dominance over the other females. Perhaps like me the other capybaras responded to her magnetism and charisma and sensed her innate leadership qualities, and natural majesty.

どんぐりは私を見て. Donguri looks at me. The other capybaras are looking at Yuzu and Ninjin in their separate enclosure. Probably they have been given something to eat and the hungry capybaras in the main enclosure wonder why they are not getting something to eat as well. By the way they are sitting you would think they are expecting Yuzu or Ninjin to offer them a titbit!

どんぐりは私を見て. Donguri looks at me. The other capybaras are looking at Yuzu and Ninjin in their separate enclosure. Probably they have been given something to eat and the hungry capybaras in the main enclosure wonder why they are not getting something to eat as well.
By the way they are sitting you would think they are expecting Yuzu or Ninjin to offer them a titbit!

I am not surprised at her ascent. Although her younger sister Aki was number one until she died last year, Donguri was always the most important female capybara in the herd. She was very caring and the first to go over and give moral support to any capybara who needed it. There was always something very special about her.

Donguri has a loyal following among the regular visitors to the Bio Park. Early in the morning at weekends a procession of her followers can be seen quietly kneeling beside her ministering to her, massaging her, pampering her and even kissing her. She rolls over in delight and seems to understand that she is a very special capybara.  When I get fed up and depressed by the modern world and the way some humans behave I think of Donguri and watch one of my many videos of her going about her daily life at Nagasaki Bio Park.

Sitting Alone with a Quizzical Look on Her Face.

Sitting Alone with a Quizzical Look on Her Face.

She frequently sits slightly apart from the herd looking very noble and imposing. Sometimes she swims over to Capuchin Island, in the middle of the pond, and sits there, a powerful, engaging and charismatic capybara. She seems to know she is important and I wonder how on earth she survived all those years under Aki’s domination.

Donguri has her very own site on YouTube, where you can see videos of her.  It’s called Capybara Donguri:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpitE3oNtZ_0Ndx2luPbCKg

Donguri always gives succour and comfort to any capybara who has been put in one of the separate enclosures. This year there are four separate enclosures, although Donguri can only reach three of them. Each morning and afternoon she visits the capybaras in each of these enclosures, calling softly as she approaches and then rubbing noses with the captive capybara inside. Then she spends a little while sitting next to their enclosure, nestling up as close to them as she can, trying to make them feel part of the herd and not forgotten. Momiji especially appreciated this when she was nursing her babies and living in a separate enclosure for six weeks. There were many days when she missed the herd, and called and called for them.

Donguri Guarding Momiji's Enclosure. She visited Momiji regularly during the day. Momiji missed the herd and frequently called to them. A film crew spent several days filming the capybaras. On at least 2 occasions they went into Momiji's enclosure and frightened her. After the first intrusion Donguri tried to guard the entrance gate to prevent the film crew entering Momiji's enclosure, but she was rudely pushed away.    Translate from: Lithuanian どんぐりはもみじを訪問

Donguri Guarding Momiji’s Enclosure. She visited Momiji regularly during the day. Momiji missed the herd and frequently called to them. A film crew spent several days filming the capybaras. On at least 2 occasions they went into Momiji’s enclosure and frightened her. After the first intrusion Donguri tried to guard the entrance gate to prevent the film crew entering Momiji’s enclosure, but she was rudely pushed away />どんぐりはもみじを訪問

Sometimes Donguri would make a strange gruff call when she approached Momiji’s or Toku’s enclosure. I never heard her make this call last year, and I wonder if it reflects her new status as matriarch of the herd. I wonder if it might be a protest. “Why can’t I be with my grandchildren”, “I want to be with Toku”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPhgkFPL2mk

I may be right that Donguri is expressing a degree of anger.

One of the people on the cutting edge of today’s research into Animal Communication is Dr. Eugene S. Morton. He specializes in the natural language of mammals and birds. Dr. Morton has developed rules that make it simple to understand animals when they communicate with one another.  After spending more than 20 years studying the sounds made by different animals, Morton has found that many animals use the same types of sounds to convey the same message. For example, if an animal is angry and about to attack, the sound that it usually makes will be harsh and have a low frequency. Though they make different sounds, an unfriendly dog growls, an angry bird squawks, and an angry squirrel chatters, they use the same type of tone. If an animal makes a high-pitched whine, it is usually afraid and is being submissive. Dr. Morton has found a relationship between the tone of an animal sound and the animal’s state of mind. Listen to the conversations between people on the street and you’ll notice this same conclusion can be made for human communication.

It seems that the more humans discover about animal communication, the more we learn about our own methods of communication. Human language may seem much more sophisticated than the communication of a chimpanzee or a barn swallow. Yet, a growing number of researchers are surprised to find out just how similar it is.

When I get fed up and depressed by the modern world and the way some humans behave I think of Donguri and watch one of my many videos of her going about her daily life at Nagasaki Bio Park.

 In this video Donguri wonders why I am always filming her. このビデオでは:なぜあなたはいつも私を撮影?“:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZosnFrDpWho

Donguri and I, A Very Special Capybara. This video was filmed in August 2012 on our first visit to Nagasaki Bio Park:

As leader of the herd Donguri feels responsible for the well-being of all the herd members. She is ever watchful, casting her eye over the herd and keeping abreast of any changes or activities that are taking place in her domain.

Towards the end of our visit to Nagasaki Bio Park in 2014 a very serious fight broke out between two of the capybara pups, Aoba and Cookie. This is a video we made:

Baby Capybaras Fight to the Death Until Donguri Intervenes赤ちゃんカピバラは死に戦います。どんぐりが介在

A very serious fight breaks out between the two babies Aoba and Cookie. Aoba, although younger, is bigger than Cookie and at one point jumps on top of her and looks as if she would like to kill Cookie. Something in Cookie’s squeal alerts Donguri, the leader of the herd, who has been sleeping beside the pond. She instantly jumps up, barks and rushes over to break up the fight. You can see Donguri on the right. Maple, Cookie’s mother, also rushes over (on the left) and looks as if she might attack Aoba. Donguri noses her away and diffuses the situation. Maple, on left, Cookie’s mother, checks up on Cookie. At 17 seconds Momiji, Aoba’s mother arrives and checks up on Cookie. At 26 seconds Yasuha, Donguri’s daughter and number 2 in the hierarchy of the Bio Park herd, shakes her head in dismay at this aggressive behaviour between the youngest members of the herd. Aoba, greedy as ever, goes over to her mother Momiji to suckle! At 40 seconds Momiji checks up on little Cookie again. 38 seconds later Yasuha goes over to check on Cookie who is still in shock. You can see the bite wound just in front of Cookie’s ear. Butter, Cookie’s sister, tries to attack Aoba several times after the fight is over. (On the video I have said it was Cookie, but in fact it was Butter no doubt defending her sister Cookie and upset at the way Aoba attacked her).

After the fight Aoba goes over to Hinase’s babies. They turn away as if they were slightly embarrassed by the fight and don’t want to get involved. Meanwhile Aoba’s mother, Momiji, jumps up onto a bench and sits there aloofly as if she to wants to appear above the fray.

I love this video of Donguri playing with her little son Io in 2012. Video made by Motoko Iwate

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pyGztlCmHY&feature=youtu.be

 

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Kiss the Critter, “Cheap Laughs, and Bullying”. Nobody Who Cared about an Animal Could Ever Submit It To a “Kiss the Critter” Event.

Sweet, Gentle, Trusting Capybara

Sweet, Gentle, Trusting Capybara

In the summer of 2012 an animal that I care very deeply about was subjected to a “Kiss the Critter” event. At the time I was heartbroken and horrified. I expressed my concerns very forcibly. I couldn’t watch the video, I was in tears. The animal looked so confused and distressed. How could anyone do this to a sweet, gentle, loving animal.

At one point one of the men smeared his face with lipstick and kissed the animal, covering the animal’s face with lipstick. It was grotesque, and crude and horrible. Nobody who cared about their animal could possibly subject them to this heartless and demeaning experience.

Last night I came across this article in Psychology Today by Marc Bekoff. In it he condemns everything that I was horrified by.

What depresses me is that we live in an age where people pretend to be animal lovers, but in reality they view animals as entertainment, and very often the animals suffer as a result.

Animals experience very similar emotions to humans. In the part of the brain which processes emotions, the limbic system, all mammals (humans and animals) have the same structures. Mammals also share the same neurochemicals that are important in processing emotions.  We should treat them with respect and love. No human should cause suffering to an animal in the pursuit of their own interests.

Animals experience very similar emotions to humans. In the part of the brain which processes emotions, the limbic system, all mammals (humans and animals) have the same structures. Mammals also share the same neurochemicals that are important in processing emotions. We should treat them with respect and love. No human should cause suffering to an animal in the pursuit of their own interests.

Kiss the Critter and Kiss a Pig Contests, “Cheap Laughs, and Bullying”

As Marc Bekoff  says, and he says it applies to other animals as much as pigs “These inane contests demean everyone involved and should be stopped right now… Stunts based on contempt and ridicule…. These sensitive {animals}… Surrounded by shrieking…. promoting animal exploitation for cheap laughs. The animals have no understanding of what is happening to them. {Animals} are sentient beings who are capable of experiencing fear and pain. Just as none of us would appreciate being held up in front of a jeering crowd, neither do animals. Bullying is bullying, no matter who the victim is.”

Animals suffer when their needs and expectations and desires are not met. All mammals (humans and animals) have the same structures in a part of the brain called the limbic system, which appears to be primarily responsible for our emotional life and the formation of memories. Mammals also share the same neurochemicals that are important in processing emotions, so these arguments from analogy, as scientists call them, are extremely strong and valid ones. I.e. any differences between humans and animals are differences of degree rather than kind. And animals may well experience some things more strongly than humans.

Animals are not objects. We do not own them. There has been a paradigm shift among scientists who study ethology, animal behaviour. Scientists have come to understand that animals have emotions and feelings and are intelligent. We should treat them with the love and respect they deserve.

This is an article that Marc Bekoff wrote for Psychology Today:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201311/kiss-pig-contests-cheap-laughs-and-bullying

“Kiss a Pig Contests, Cheap Laughs, and Bullying

These inane contests demean everyone involved and should be stopped right now

Published on November 8, 2013 by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. in Animal Emotions

Given that schools rightfully aspire to zero tolerance of bullying, they should be at the forefront of encouraging students to be respectful to each other, to their teachers and to all those around them, human and nonhuman alike. So, why are schools (and other organizations) holding events such as “kiss a pig” contests to reward students for reading or to motivate them in their fundraising? These spectacles send the reckless message that stunts based on contempt and ridicule are not only condoned but also encouraged.

Whether or not a student or teacher is well liked, it’s clear that the person who gets the most votes and has to kiss a pig is considered a “loser.” In “kiss a pig” contests, these sensitive animals are surrounded by shrieking kids and the pigs have no understanding of what is happening to them. The piglets often scream in fright, urinate and struggle to escape.

Schools should recognize that these kinds of incentives encourage students to be openly disdainful of their teachers and also foster derision and disrespect toward both educators and pigs. Instead of mocking pigs, students could learn a lot of positive lessons about kindness and compassion from them.

Pigs are loyal friends and amiable companions. Smart and inquisitive, they enjoy exploring and uncovering new and interesting things. They dream and also enjoy listening to music and getting back rubs. Calling someone “a pig” should actually be a compliment.

Pigs are sentient beings who are capable of experiencing fear and pain. Just as none of us would appreciate being held up in front of a jeering crowd, neither do pigs. Bullying is bullying, no matter who the victim is. The teacher who would stop a child from being picked on should extend the same compassion toward animals. Educators must recognize the danger of instigating group antipathy (the so-called “mob mentality”) and how doing so prompts otherwise kind people to behave badly.

If students were taught how personable pigs really are, I feel certain these contests would be stopped once and for all. Young people can learn to appreciate pigs for the truly remarkable beings they are. Pigs offer valuable lessons in forgiveness, resilience and confidence, and I know this firsthand from a pig I met a few years ago named Geraldine.

Geraldine was a rescued potbellied pig living at a lovely sanctuary called Kindness Ranch. Although she had known nothing but cruelty before being rescued, she was personable and clearly interested in assessing me for acceptance as a new friend. Once I passed muster and she trusted me, she demanded nothing but companionship and belly rubs. Geraldine had every reason to be hostile and fearful, but she put her bad past behind her and moved forward with optimism and cheer. The idea of subjecting Geraldine or any of her kin to derision or discomfort is utterly unthinkable.

Links between animal abuse and human abuse are well-known

In light of the devastating consequences of bullying, schools are doing the right thing to take steps to curb anti-social behavior. And those steps must include extending kindness to everyone, including other animals, as there are well-established links between abusing nonhuman animals and bullying humans (see also and “Animal Cruelty and Antisocial Behavior: A Very Strong Link“).

With so many innovative and humane ways to motivate kids, schools are failing themselves and their students by promoting animal exploitation for cheap laughs. These sorts of events should be stopped immediately and the reasons for doing so should be made very clear. Both humans and other animals will benefit from these discussions.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Marc Bekoff is a former Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and is a Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and a past Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000 he was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major long-term contributions to the field of animal behavior. Marc is also an ambassador for Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program, in which he works with students of all ages, senior citizens, and prisoners, and also is a member of the Ethics Committee of the Jane Goodall Institute. He and Jane co-founded the organization Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Citizens for Responsible Animal Behavior Studies in 2000. Marc is on the Board of Directors of The Fauna Sanctuary and The Cougar Fund and on the advisory board for Animal Defenders, the Laboratory Primate Advocacy Group, and Project Coyote. He has been part of the international program, Science and the Spiritual Quest II and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) program on Science, Ethics, and Religion. Marc is also an honorary member of Animalisti Italiani and Fundacion Altarriba. In 2006 Marc was named an honorary board member of Rational Animal and a patron of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society. In 2009 he was named a member of the Scientific Expert Advisory Panel of Voiceless, The Animal Protection Institute and a faculty member of the Humane Society University, and in 2010 he was named to the advisory board of Living with Wolves and Greenvegans and the advisory council of the National Museum of Animals & Society. In 2005 Marc was presented with The Bank One Faculty Community Service Award for the work he has done with children, senior citizens, and prisoners. In 2009 he was presented with the St. Francis of Assisi Award by the Auckland (New Zealand) SPCA. Marc is also on the Board of Directors for Minding Animals International.

This is a link to Marc Bekoff’s homepage:

http://www.literati.net/authors/marc-bekoff/

 

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Poor Momiji Capybara… Being A Mother Capybara Can Be Very Stressful もみじカピバラ…母カピバラは非常にストレス

Poor Momiji. Being a mother capybara can be very stressful. The last two capybaras to give birth at the Biopark have both died.

Momiji and Doughnut

Momiji and Doughnut

On July 12 Momiji gave birth to two baby boys, Choco and Doughnut. Three days later when the keepers arrived at the Capybara enclosure first thing in the morning they were amazed to discover a tiny little baby capybara wandering around amongst the herd. After inspecting all the adult female capybaras they concluded that Ayu was the mother (there was a drop of blood on her bottom). Ayu was not producing any milk so little Macaroni, as he was named, was put into Momiji’s enclosure for her to look after.

In the wild capybara mothers go in for “alloparenting” (communal nursing). This means that all the mothers are happy to suckle any of the babies. So it was quite natural for Momiji to take over mothering Macaroni.

Momiji Nurses Choco, Doughnut and Macaroni on Capuchin Island

Momiji Nurses Choco, Doughnut and Macaroni on Capuchin Island

We spent six weeks visiting the capybaras at Nagasaki Biopark every day… all day. Capybaras are exceptionally intelligent and emotionally very sensitive and sophisticated. They are extremely affectionate and gregarious.    In their behaviour and their relationships they remind me so much of humans. I hope they don’t mind the analogy!

.

 

Momiji

Momiji

On our first day at the Biopark the afternoon was punctuated by a succession of thunderstorms. And it rained heavily… all day.   Capybaras hate rain.

Momiji was in a small enclosure on her own with the babies near the entrance to the main capybara petting enclosure. She had been taken out of the herd some weeks before she gave birth, and she would spend a further six weeks in this separate enclosure after giving birth. This practice is intended to protect her and her babies from any attacks by other capybaras.

Doughnut

Doughnut

But Momiji frequently missed the company and support of the herd. There were days when she called and called and called for the herd. Our first day at the Biopark was one of these days. She found the thunder and lightning deeply unsettling, she hated the rain but most of all she missed the herd. She needed their company and their support in this disturbing and upsetting weather.

Choco, Macaroni and Doughnut on Capuchin Island. September 2013

Choco, Macaroni and Doughnut on Capuchin Island.
September 2013

Donguri, number one in the Biopark hierarchy came to visit her at least twice a day.   She would stay for long periods lying as close as she could get to Momiji, against the fence, or if it was very hot she would stay in the pond adjacent to Momiji’s enclosure, half out of the water with her forepaws resting on the bank, looking at Momiji and softly calling to her.

Donguri Guarding Momiji's Enclosure

Donguri Guarding Momiji’s Enclosure

Donguri is the matriarch of the herd and a very wise and caring capybara. She is the most important capybara in Japan because everyone wants to breed to her in the hopes that her offspring will inherit her exceptional character and personality. This doesn’t always work out!   Kaede, Momiji’s sister, is one of the naughtiest capybaras and has been sent to another zoo, because she was always fighting.   Momiji has also not inherited Donguri’s character;  where Donguri is very calm, Momiji is very restless and intense.   Donguri is Momiji and Kaede’s mother.

Momiji is very intense, she does everything to the best of her ability. She is an exceptional mother always acceding to the demands for milk of her babies, no matter how demanding they are. By contrast Maple frequently refused her babies’, Butter and Cookie, demands for milk. In 2014 Momiji’s baby, Aoba, was the size of a 5 month old when she was only 2 months old, and noticeably larger than Butter and Cookie. She is a wonderful lover, making herself instantly available, and very intense in her lovemaking. Inevitably she is a favourite of all the male capybaras.

On our first day Momiji was very anxious, she felt threatened by the continual thunderstorms. She called the herd again and again throughout the day.

Poor Momiji was also often very hungry. Feeding three babies takes a lot out of any mother. She soon came to see me as her guardian angel and food provider as I had noticed how hungry she was and was concerned about her.   She let out a very cute, soft chuckling sound of gratitude as she started to feed, and looked up at me happily with her soft brown eyes.

The keepers sometimes very kindly gave me extra bamboo, yam plant and pellets to feed her;  Momiji and I were both very grateful.

 

Momiji and Choco Eating Hay. Only the hungriest capybaras ate the hay. In the afternoon the only other food available was the bamboo bought by the visitors. Unfortunately Momiji often missed out on this as people preferred to feed her cute little babies.

Momiji and Choco Eating Hay. Only the hungriest capybaras ate the hay. In the afternoon the only other food available was the bamboo bought by the visitors. Unfortunately Momiji often missed out on this as people preferred to feed her cute little babies.

The feeding mechanism for visitors who wanted to buy pellets and feed Momiji was not very efficient. The Biopark does not like visitors to hand feed the capybaras so in Momiji’s enclosure you had to drop the pellets down a long tube. Unfortunately the tube frequently became detached at the entrance point to the enclosure so many of the pellets fell outside her enclosure (towards the end of our visit this was remedied). However even then those pellets that did make their way into her enclosure frequently bounced off the receptacle that was their intended destination and ended up on the floor of the enclosure. Anyone who has ever fed pellets to a capybara will have discovered that capybaras do not find it easy to locate pellets that have fallen on the ground.

Momiji and The Babies Share Bamboo

Momiji and The Babies Share Bamboo

To get round this I hand fed Momiji through the bars of the fence. She soon came to recognise my smell.   Later on when she was released into the main petting enclosure she continued to view me as her friend and provider. As she was usually hungry she would come over to me pointing her nose up at me and sticking her  little pink tongue out hoping for a food reward. She had cleverly learnt that humans love to see cute little pink capybara tongues, and by sticking her cute tongue out she was able to encourage visitors to give her extra food rewards.

Momiji Sticks Her Tongue out at Marc

Momiji Sticks Her Tongue out at Marc

She would often come and sit behind us with her babies when the petting enclosure was full of people.

From my diary, Friday, September 6: At breakfast only four troughs are used. There were nine troughs available, although frequently fewer than nine were used.   Using fewer troughs leads to more competion for the food, and a lot of extra agonistic behaviour, conflict and fighting.

Macaroni is pushed into the pond, Momiji gets hardly anything to eat. Even Maple is now challenging Momiji for her position in the hierarchy. Poor Momiji went from trough to trough getting pushed away. Even Donguri tried to nip her and gnashed her teeth.

I asked if I could pick up some pellets which had fallen on the path, and give them to Momiji to eat. I was told “No”.  I was in tears. I had only asked because I was certain the answer would be “Yes”.   It made no sense that I couldn’t give the pellets to a very hungry capybara who was nursing 3 baby capybaras and desperately needed more to eat. Later when no one was looking I gathered up all the pellets that I could find on the path and gave them to her. Then I moved the trough so she could eat the pellets that were hidden underneath.

 

Momiji

Momiji

Another clever little strategy Momiji had worked out was to jump up onto a bench and sit there looking so endearing and expectant. This immediately brought her to the attention of visitors and made her stand out as a very attractive and lovable capybara to feed. She frequently came and sat on the bench beside us, and on one occasion she was so hungry that as soon as I put a pellet in my hand she jumped in my lap!

Momiji and Doughnut

Momiji and Doughnut

When Momiji suckled her babies she went into a trance like state. Her eyes would glaze over, and she made this beautiful, quite magical sound and her nose vibrated. On several occasions when she was suckling/nursing she looked a little restless and uncomfortable, shifting her weight from foot to foot as if she would rather be doing something else. After a short while she would go into this trancelike state and from then on she was happy to stand there forever, well for at least 12 minutes.

“Momiji Suckling Baby Capybaras. Beautiful Vocalisation, Nose Vibrates”:    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2M63phyWmo

The sound quality is better in this video, but the video is only in close-up of Momiji’s head (the close-up is in order to improve the sound quality). “Capybara Momiji Beautiful Vocalisation As She Suckles”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnoD08LKtko

She won my heart… The way she looked to me for nourishment and protection.  She was just such a wonderful mother always putting the needs of her babies first.

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Pet Capybara Pool Size. What Size Pool Does My Capybara Need?

Romeo and Tuff'n Playing at the Bottom of Their Pool

Romeo and Tuff’n Playing at the Bottom of Their Pool

A recommended minimum size of pool/pond is 9 ft x 16 ft with a depth of 4 ft. The pool or pond should have a few shallow places where the capybara can sit and rest while still remaining mostly or partly submerged. If your pool does not have any steps or ledges that would provide this, you should put something like a plastic table in the pool for the capybara to sit on. Make sure it is securely anchored and does not tip over when the capybara climbs onto it.

Romeo Rests on the Swimming Pool Steps

Romeo Rests on the Swimming Pool Steps

A large, 8 foot, cattle tank is not sufficient, many people would say . There is no way a capybara can swim properly in something this small. And of course it is not very deep either.

Capybaras are outstanding swimmers and need a pool/pond that is at least 4 feet deep. They love to swim underwater and are very playful, rolling and turning. Capybaras can stay under water for up to 5 minutes.

Yasushi Loves Being Nuzzled. He and his female admirers at Nagasaki Bio Park have a huge pond to play in.

Yasushi Loves Being Nuzzled. He and his female admirers at Nagasaki Bio Park have a huge pond to play in.

In the wild capybaras spend much of the afternoon in water. Submerging in water is a way for them to thermoregulate, i.e. cool themselves.

Capybaras are very agile and graceful in water. A cattle tank is not big enough to allow them to express themselves physically and aquatically, as they would in the wild.   It is a wonderful sight watching a capybara swim, and roll, and play with gay abandon.


Little Tuff'n Gains an Advantage over Bigger Romeo By Standing on the Step above Him

Little Tuff’n Gains an Advantage over Bigger Romeo By Standing on the Step above Him

Please see my blog which gives information about the dangers to capybaras of letting capybaras use your swimming pool. I also give information about a recommended filter system to use to clean the water in your swimming pool.  It is recommended that you do not use chlorine.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/pet-capybara-health-warning-it-might-be-potentially-dangerous-to-let-your-capybara-swim-in-a-chlorinated-swimming-pool-designed-and-intended-for-human-use/

This is a video of Romeo and Tuff’n playing in their swimming pool, you will see how they really make use of, and enjoy, the space available to them:

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“Who Stole our Pond?” 長崎バイオパークのカピバラ池は空っぽ。それは珍しい光景 A Very Rare Sight: The Capybaras’ Pond at Nagasaki Bio Park Is Empty, No Water.

 

Inspector Donguri Surveys the Scene from Capuchin Island.   インスペクタどんぐりはカプチン島からシーンを調査

Inspector Donguri Surveys the Scene from Capuchin Island. インスペクタどんぐりはカプチン島からシーンを調査

 

The time has come to clean the pond in the capybara enclosure at Nagasaki Bio Park. It is Thursday, September 12, 2013. The pond has been drained and a team of keepers and senior management at the Biopark is hard at work scrubbing the floor of the pond. A mountain of silt has been washed down the hillside into the pond. This will all have to be removed.

カピバラ世界。日本語版。写真 Capybara world  Japanese version.  このブログの一部を日本語に翻訳が含まれています。 Includes translation into Japanese of part of this blog.

浩二アンダーソンによるビデオや音楽  Video and music by Koji Anderson.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bThwl6vGPfc

どんぐりがかかっている。アユは排便。若いカピバラは島のおやつを持っています。   Donguri Takes a Well Earned Rest. Ayu Makes Sure the Pond Doesn't Remain Too Sanitary! Some of the Younger Capybaras Take Time out to Snack on Capuchin Island.

どんぐりがかかっている。アユは排便。若いカピバラは島のおやつを持っています。 Donguri Takes a Well Earned Rest. Ayu Makes Sure the Pond Doesn’t Remain Too Sanitary! Some of the Younger Capybaras Take Time out to Snack on Capuchin Island.

The men start early in the morning. It will be a hard day’s work. All the fish are removed from the pond and put in a separate tank. One large, recalcitrant fish jumps out of the tank and has to be rescued by Marc.

Donguri, the most important capybara at the Bio Park and possibly the most important capybara in Japan, is in charge of overseeing operations. During the day she takes up various prominent positions to observe progress and make sure the cleaning is being done to her satisfaction.

インスペクタどんぐり   Inspector Donguri

インスペクタどんぐり Inspector Donguri

She starts the day with an extended roll in the mud by the fish tank. When she is completely covered in mud she wanders around looking faintly otherworldly. She rubs against her young deputy, Syu (Aki’s son, the only male in the main herd, and now 11 months old). Syu is a sweet, very gentle and loving capybara.  He now wanders around with a muddy face. Is mud the badge of officialdom?

Syu

泥だらけの顔 警視 Muddy Deputy Inspector Syu

Donguri is supported by her team of capybara inspectors. They make regular forays into the empty pond to inspect the pond floor at close quarters.

チョコと秋は、ツールを検査します。彼らは適切なのですか? Choco and Autumn Inspect the Tools To Make Sure They Are up to the Job.

チョコと秋は、ツールを検査します。彼らは適切なのですか? Choco and Autumn Inspect the Tools To Make Sure They Are up to the Job.

ここで池掃除のビデオです。インスペクタどんぐり監修。そして、すべてのカピバ:

 This is a video we made of the day’s activities:

http://youtu.be/36ldlwZWLGM

なぜ長時間労働を取る?とても遅い。   Why are The Humans Taking so Long? Donguri is in The Middle of Her Exceptionally Patient Team.

なぜ長時間労働を取る?とても遅い。 Why are The Humans Taking so Long? Donguri is in The Middle of Her Exceptionally Patient Team.

Extra food has been put out for the capybaras to give them the necessary energy for their arduous day’s work.

When the capybaras are not hard at work scrutinising the bottom of the pond, they nap and eat.

人間を監督。これは退屈だ!  Supervising Humans Can Be so Boring!

人間を監督。これは退屈だ! 右側のどんぐり。後ろに座って。 Supervising Humans Can Be so Boring! That is Donguri sitting down at the back on the right.

From time to time Chief Inspector Donguri rolls around in the puddles to make sure everything is to her liking.

どんぐりは緩和。ローリング.   Donguri Relaxes, Rolling.

どんぐりは緩和。ローリング. Donguri Relaxes, Rolling.

Just before lunch there is high drama. Momiji and her babies were the first to explore the pond floor, as Momiji tried to find a safe refuge for them. She found the mayhem of this unusual day disturbing.  Strange and possibly threatening activities were going on. She explored all the usual safe havens to see if there was water she could hide in, but there was not.

もみじ、チョコ、ドーナツとマカロニ。空の池を入力する最初の。   Momiji and The Babies Are First Into the Empty Pond. Momiji is Perturbed by the Day's Activities and Goes to Investigate the Capybaras Usual Boltholes.

もみじ、チョコ、ドーナツとマカロニ。空の池を入力する最初の。 Momiji and The Babies Are First Into the Empty Pond. Momiji is Perturbed by the Day’s Activities and Goes to Investigate the Capybaras Usual Boltholes.

She then decided to jump out of the pond at a point which required a two foot leap. little Macaroni managed to follow her, but try as they might Choco and Doughnut just did not have the strength to leap that high. Time and again they hurled themselves into the air, their little forelegs flailing against the rocks, only to come crashing down. It was heartbreaking to watch. There was a real chance that one of the babies might break its leg landing awkwardly. The legs of baby capybaras are very fragile.

もみじは池のうち2フィートをジャンプします。小さなドーナツも2フィートをジャンプします。しかし、チョコとマカロニ。それは高すぎる。行うことはできません。   Momiji Leaps 2 Feet Out Of the Empty Pond. Amazingly, Doughnut Manages This Feat Twice, Despite His Tiny Size.

もみじは池のうち2フィートをジャンプします。小さなドーナツも2フィートをジャンプします。しかし、チョコとマカロニ。それは高すぎる。行うことはできません。 Momiji Leaps 2 Feet Out Of the Empty Pond. Amazingly, Macaroni Manages This Feat Twice, Despite His Tiny Size.

I couldn’t understand why none of the keepers didn’t lift the baby capybaras out. The keepers were only three feet away from the drama, scrubbing the pond floor.  Perhaps this is an example of how Eastern and Western sensibilities about animals sometimes differ;  but I have seen many examples of people in the West being indifferent to animal suffering, even among people who claim to be animal lovers.  Please don’t cast blame…here…

Marc said I shouldn’t interfere…

Eventually, Choco and Doughnut gave up and called plaintively from the pond floor. Momiji and Macaroni had no choice but to rejoin them in the empty pond.

Fortunately this happened just before the lunch break. While the keepers were gone I bought some bamboo and managed to lure Momiji and the babies out of the pond on the opposite side, where there were stepping stones that made it easier for Choco and Doughnut to climb to safety. I think it’s very important in a herd of capybaras to keep stress to a minimum. And this was an exceedingly stressful situation for Momiji and the baby capybaras.   Stress leads to conflict and there was already too much conflict in the herd this year.

In the afternoon a team of female keepers takes over for a while.

チョコは:"人間は何をしている?"   Choco Wonders What On Earth Is Going On.  What Are the Humans Doing Now!

チョコは:”人間は何をしている?” Doughnut Wonders What On Earth Is Going On. “What Are the Humans Doing Now!”

New branches have to be cut, resplendent with leaves, to replace the bare tree trunks on Capuchin Island. The afternoon before, the monkeys were rounded up and locked away in their house. The two cleverest monkeys eluded the keepers for most of the afternoon. As I left the capybara enclosure on Wednesday afternoon loud protests could be heard emanating from the monkey house.   Unable to swim, the monkeys normally cannot leave Capuchin Island. They behave like a teenage gang of semi-educated truants; their behaviour reminds me so much of gangland teenage youths.

New Leafy Branches 新しい葉枝が選ばれています。オマキザルの島のために.  Are Chosen to Replace the Old Ones on Capuchin Island.

新しい葉枝が選ばれています。オマキザルの島のために. New Leafy Branches Are Chosen to Replace the Old Ones on Capuchin Island.

金は新しい枝の品質をチェック.   Kin Checks The Quality of the New Branches.

金は新しい枝の品質をチェック. Kin Checks The Quality of the New Branches.

One of their favourite activities is to harass the capybaras. They hang around just out of reach making annoying noises, plotting an attack. One ‘youth’ monkey will run up behind a capybara, reach out and pinch its bottom, and then run away. When Momiji is on the island the monkeys keep their distance. This ever vigilant, iconically outstanding mother will attack the monkeys if they get too close to her babies. From time to time the harassment escalates and the monkeys run the capybaras off the island.

検査チームは懸命に働く.   The Inspection Team Hard at Work.

検査チームは懸命に働く. 島のモンキーハウス。木で作ら。 The Inspection Team Hard at Work. You can see The Monkey House, The Wooden Structure on the Island.

By 4 PM work is finished. Chief Inspector Donguri makes one last inspection tour, followed by her team. She then leaps two feet out of the pond with amazing agility. She is a large capybara, the largest by far at the Bio Park, and she looks a trifle ungainly sometimes when she walks on land. This is obviously an illusion, for it turns out she is supremely athletic and powerful.

検査が終了しました。どんぐりは素晴らしい敏捷でジャンプします。   Donguri and The Team Have Finished Their Inspection. Donguri Jumps out with Amazing Agility.

検査が終了しました。どんぐりは素晴らしい敏捷でジャンプします。 Donguri and The Team Have Finished Their Inspection. Donguri Jumps out with Amazing Agility.

Then the pond is slowly refilled with freshwater from the nearby Nakayama River. The thick green water, impenetrable to the human eye, is replaced with a palish brown liquid. For the first time I can see the beautiful and agile movements of the capybaras as they swim and play in the pond. Donguri is particularly graceful and surprisingly agile for a capybara her age. She will be 9 on September 30 (2013).

It has been a tiring day for the capybaras. The capybaras will all sleep well tonight.

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Neutering a Pet Capybara. Tuff’n’s Story: “Who Stole My Testicles”. ペットのカピバラを去勢. リトルTuff’n彼の睾丸を失い。Tuff’nの物語: “誰が私の睾丸を盗んだ”

The time had come for little Tuff’n to be neutered.

"Where Have They Gone, Who's Taken Them?"

“Where Have They Gone, Who’s Taken Them?”

Anyone contemplating getting a male baby capybara needs to know that they may well have to neuter their beloved friend and this can be a horrible, very painful experience for the little capybara. It can also be costly at around $600.

Many male capybaras become aggressive as they mature and their testosterone levels rise. The norm appears to be for this to happen at about six months, but it can happen as early as 4 1/2 months of age.

Tuff'n Recovers after His Neutering

Tuff’n Recovers after His Neutering

Romeo had a very miserable experience with his neutering and it was a full month before he was back to normal. The use of his hind legs was affected and he had difficulty walking.  Watching him suffer was almost more than Marvin and Elizabeth could bear.

Romeo Is a Very Sensitive, Highly Strung Capybara. Memories of his own experience in this recovery room were too much for him.

Romeo Is a Very Sensitive, Highly Strung Capybara. Memories of his own experience in this recovery room were too much for him.

One reason why Romeo suffered so much more than Tuff’n may have been because Romeo was the first capybara the vet had neutered, and there was a degree of bruising around one of his former testicles, presumably the first testicle to be removed. This area also developed an infection some days later; normally the vet would include an antibiotic as part of the neutering regime, but because capybaras are so sensitive to drugs this was not done in the hopes that it would not be needed. In this case, had he been given an antibiotic he might not have developed the infection. Romeo was also given one extra drug that Tuff’n did not get, as the vet refined the neutering process.

Tuff'n Waiting for His Horrible Operation

Tuff’n Waiting for His Horrible Operation

Romeo and Tuff’n had become close friends… Tuff’n follows Romeo almost everywhere. Male capybaras, with their intrinsic herd hierarchy, are notorious for not getting along, leading to fights and injuries, as they challenge each other for supremacy in the herd. Marvin and Elizabeth could not let a rambunctious, testosterone fuelled Tuff’n destroy this harmonious relationship. Already Tuff’n’s behaviour was changing.  Each day, several times a day, his hormones kicked in and he would try and copulate with any appendage, Marvin’s arm being a favourite.

On several occasions a flying Tuff’n landed on Romeo’s head, attempting to copulate with Romeo’s aristocratic nose. Romeo did not look appreciative!   Tuff’n even tried to copulate with the back of my head on one occasion. Romeo frequently sniffed Tuff’n’s bottom and must have been aware of the changes that were taking place in Tuff’n’s body, and in his demeanour and behaviour.

Tuff'n's Pretty Pink Testicles!   It's such a pity they had to go

Tuff’n’s Pretty Pink Testicles! It’s such a pity they had to go

A date was set with the best vet in Las Vegas, David R Mason, B. Vet. Med, MRCVS, DACVS, DECVS, who trained at Imperial College London, and practices at the LVVSC (Las Vegas Veterinary Speciality Centre).

The house was prepared for Tuff’n’s sad arrival home. The bed was taken out of the bedroom and replaced with a 2 inch high foam mattress that would allow little Tuff’n to clamber in and out of bed without trauma. A potty pan was put in the bedroom. A tarpaulin was put on the floor in case of any accidents, as it was expected that Tuff’n would also find it difficult to use his hind legs and might not reach the potty pan in time. Elizabeth and Marvin spent a sleepless night. Marvin had to go to work so Marc and I arranged to meet Elizabeth at the vets to give her both moral and physical support.

Romeo Went along to Give Little Tuff'n Moral Support!

Romeo Went along to Give Little Tuff’n Moral Support!

Romeo went along to give Tuff’n moral support. When he entered the reception area at the vets he was greeted by adoring nurses who remembered him from his two previous visits. He loved the attention and adoration and kissed at least one of the nurses.

However, when we were shown into the recovery room where Tuff’n would be sedated and to which he would return after his operation, Romeo panicked. Memories of his two previous visits and the accompanying pain and suffering came flooding back. He completely freaked out and rushed under a chair, in a feverish state, to hide, followed by Tuff’n who was now also panicking; so much for Romeo being a source of comfort to Tuff’n! Romeo next jumped onto the chair next to Elizabeth and then into her lap. Marc was dispatched to the car to get Romeo’s favourite blanket while Elizabeth did her best to soothe him. Once Romeo was wrapped in his blanket with his head covered he began to relax a little bit. Now that nobody could see him he felt safe. After all if nobody could see him how could he possibly be operated on!

Little Tuff'n Looking Slightly Out Of It

Little Tuff’n Looking Slightly Out Of It

Elizabeth’s hands were now full!   Tuff’n was retrieved from under the chair by the nurse and given an injection to sedate him. The nurse said she would return in 5 minutes to collect little Tuff’n. The worst part was watching little Tuff’n lying on the floor completely still and lifeless, his good eye wide open. What if something went wrong and he never regained consciousness. It was a thought too much to bear.

Little Tuff'n lies unconscious on his blanket on the floor, his good eye wide open, completely lifeless. What if he never regains consciousness....

Little Tuff’n lies unconscious on his blanket on the floor, his good eye wide open, completely lifeless. What if he never regains consciousness….

Once Tuff’n had been taken into the operating room, we took Romeo to a park to graze. I had expected him to be concerned about Tuff’n and worried by his absence since Romeo and Tuff’n always go to the park together to graze. But Romeo betrayed no concern at all, on the contrary he seemed rather pleased to be an “only” capybara again, the centre of everyone’s love and attention. I don’t mean this as criticism of Romeo at all, because he is the most wonderful and thoughtful capybara. Perhaps he was simply relieved to have left the vet’s premises, and was reassured that no scalpels would be going anywhere near him.

In Happier Times

In Happier Times

After about an hour we returned to the doctor’s surgery to collect Tuff’n. While Elizabeth drove home I sat in the back seat with Tuff’n on my lap. His overriding desire was to bite me, perhaps in retaliation for what another human had just inflicted on him. In reality he was probably only trying to nibble me. Capybaras frequently nibble each other as a sign of affection. I felt so sorry for him.

You can see the very neat incisions where Tuff'n's Little Testicles Used to Be. Little Tuff'n Was Rolling on the Floor in Some Pain

You can see the very neat incisions where Tuff’n’s Little Testicles Used to Be.
Little Tuff’n Was Rolling on the Floor in Some Pain

On returning home Tuff’n recovered much more quickly than Romeo. It is interesting to remember his reaction to his horrific birthing injuries, which left him with the loss of his right eye, the ear flap on his right ear and a horrendous cut that went right down to his bone, leaving the bone exposed.   Despite these injuries, Tuff’n ate and played with the other newborn baby capybaras as though nothing had happened.

Romeo looks to Elizabeth for Protection and Reassurance. Why have we come back to visit the vet?

Romeo looks to Elizabeth for Protection and Reassurance: “Why have we come back to visit the vet?”

He was able to walk slowly but normally as soon as he arrived home following the neutering operation. He made an early visit to the potty pan and was able to squat properly despite the recent invasive surgery to this region of his anatomy. Elizabeth massaged him and petted him. He even managed to “sing” his loud happy vocalisations and to go into that blissful state with his hair raised, all within an hour of returning home. You can see why he was given the name Tuff’n, short for “Tough One”.

Poor Little Tuff'n Looking Very Sorry for Himself

Poor Little Tuff’n Looking Very Sorry for Himself

Tuff’n is the only capybara I have heard of who has not suffered unbearably after being neutered.

Tuff'n Valiantly Follows Romeo to the Far End of the House

Tuff’n Valiantly Follows Romeo to the Far End of the House

In the hours and days that followed Romeo frequently sniffed Tuff’n’s bottom to assess the situation. He seemed satisfied and relieved that Tuff’n would no longer pose a threat, and that he Romeo was not the only capybara to have gone through this dreadful operation.

Tuff'n Rolling on the Floor in Pain after His Horrible Operation

Tuff’n Rolling on the Floor in Pain after His Horrible Operation

It breaks Marvin and Elizabeth’s hearts to have to neuter their capybaras. Romeo is such an outstanding male capybara, Elizabeth and Marvin would love to have seen these exceptional genes carried on into future generations. It is against all their values to have to do this to their beloved male capybaras. But Romeo, on several occasions, metamorphosed into a different animal in a testosterone fuelled haze of aggression towards Marvin, his rival as number one in their herd hierarchy. This aggression also coincided with the arrival of cutest baby Tuff’n, a rival for the affections of Elizabeth and Marvin. Up to now Romeo had experienced their undivided love for him, and he knew that would change with Tuff’n’s arrival. There was nothing mean or unpleasant about Romeo’s aggression, he was just acting according to nature. Once the aggressive state had passed, during which he seemed like a capybara possessed by an external force, Romeo returned to being his usual very sweet affectionate self.

The bill for Tuff'n's neutering came to over $600. For Romeo's neutering it was over $700

The bill for Tuff’n’s neutering came to over $600. For Romeo’s neutering it was over $700

Videos of Tuff’n:

Tuff’n Capybara Has To Be Neutered カピバラは、去勢されている必要があり

Tuff’n is six months old and beginning to experience the onset of his “manhood”. He has become quite rambunctious and as his testosterone levels surge he wants to copulate with anything that looks even slightly inviting! A human arm will do, he even took a flying leap landing on Romeo’s nose! Poor Romeo looked quite put out. Tuff’n loves to nibble as he mock copulates.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Goq78iI-xcw

Little Tuff’n recovers very quickly from his neutering operation, unlike Romeo who suffered several days of excruciating pain and misery. Elizabeth massages him, and much to my amazement he is singing his little happy vocalisations soon after he arrives home. He even goes briefly into that blissful state with his hair raised. He is an amazing little capybara.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRTIEuFKLII

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Visiting Nagasaki Bio Park: The Best Place In The World To Be With Capybaras. 客員長崎バイオパーク:カピバラを表示するには、世界で最高の場所。

The Biopark has a beautiful location, set over wooded hills on the stunning Saikai peninsular. Anyone who loves nature and animals will enjoy visiting, quite apart from meeting the exceptional capybaras.

For information on how to get to Nagasaki Bio Park, including from Tokyo Narita Airport:: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/how-to-get-to-nagasaki-bio-park-to-see-the-adorable-capybaras-of-course-there-are-lots-of-other-animals-many-of-which-you-can-pet-and-botanical-gardens-its-very-easy/

Here is a blog I have written about the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park. Like humans they are all individuals and have different personalities. And of course like humans you can recognise them by their faces – they all look different. Visiting them is so much more interesting when you know who they are

すべての動物は、個々のです。ちょうど人間のように。喜びははるかに大きいです。カピバラの名前を知っています。カピバラのキャラクターと個性を知ってい ます。あなたははるかにカピバラをお楽しみいただけます。あなたは彼の名前を知らない場合はカピバラを侮辱です。彼の性格。カピバラを認識してください。 彼らはこれを値しま

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/the-capybaras-at-nagasaki-bio-park-%E9%95%B7%E5%B4%8E%E3%83%90%E3%82%A4%E3%82%AA%E3%83%91%E3%83%BC%E3%82%AF%E3%81%AE%E3%82%AB%E3%83%94%E3%83%90%E3%83%A9/

Butter and Cookie, Maple's babies, 6 weeks old. They always sleep together, resting their heads on each other. バターやクッキー。メープルの赤ちゃん。 6週齢。常に一緒に寝ます

Butter and Cookie, Maple’s babies, 6 weeks old. They always sleep together, resting their heads on each other. バターやクッキー。メープルの赤ちゃん。 6週齢。常に一緒に寝ます

Little baby Io. The youngest capybara, just 5 months old

 

Having a capybara come over to you and sit affectionately in your lap is the most wonderful experience. Many of the capybaras at Nagasaki Bio Park will sit on the laps of visitors these days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdNE6omkqvM

This is one of my favourite baby capybara videos: Doughnut being nibbled by Macaroni and Choco. Macaroni is the most enthusiastic nibbler.

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Baby Aoba loves to sleep on top of her mother Momiji. Momiji is a fantastic mother. おめでとう!リトル青葉はミイラもみじの上で寝大好き。もみじは素晴らしい母親であります

Baby Aoba loves to sleep on top of her mother Momiji. Momiji is a fantastic mother. おめでとう!リトル青葉はミイラもみじの上で寝大好き。もみじは素晴らしい母親であります

One of the joys of the visit was hand feeding the capybaras.   They are so gentle as they take a pellet from you with their soft lips, and then tenderly rub their lips over your hand almost like a kiss, making their happy, chuckling call of gratitude and pleasure.

You can see just how affectionate the capybaras are at Nagasaki Bio Park in this video:

Syu is the most affectionate capybara I’ve ever met. シュー非常に愛情のカピバラ

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25% WN Ryoko on Marc's lap 21 December 2015 085

Many of the capybaras will come and sit in your lap. Sometimes you may have to entice them by offering food, however in this photo Ryoko came and sat on my husband’s lap of her own volition. She looked so happy as she snuggled up to him

Watching the Capybaras frolicking in their enormous pond was enchanting.   They are just so playful;  Great Grandmother Donguri, leader of the Bio Park herd loves to ride piggyback on her daughters.  The youngest Capybaras love riding piggy back on the older ones.  Several Capybaras might play ‘tug of war’ with a piece of bamboo.  They have mock fights and chases, or sometimes just nuzzle each other.   Nuzzling under the chin, a very sensitive spot,  brings on that amazing blissful state, where the hair rises (pilo-erection) and they go into a state of ecstasy.   Yasushi, the Boss Capybara (ie the breeding male) loves being nuzzled under his chin;   he is very amorous and sensuous.   This nuzzling can sometimes be accompanied by nips and the very occasional squeal.

Yasushi Being Nuzzled by Donguri. He Looks so Happy

Yasushi is adored by all the female Capybaras who follow him around and nuzzle him frequently under the chin in the pond.   He rolls over in ecstasy, sinking under the water and looks completely towsled and dazed when he surfaces.  Watching the Capybaras is a priceless experience, not to be missed for the world.   You can watch Yasushi being nuzzled in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibuodCxI_mk

 

Yasushi, King of Capybaras, All the Females Adore Him. Me Too. He Has So Much Charisma

Yasushi is the only adult male;  he is the breeding male, known as the Boss in Japan.  He will spend about 3 years as the breeding male before a new male replaces him.   So the frolic is often amorous if Yasushi is involved.    He is also a wonderful father, always willing to take time off from his love making to play with his son, baby Io,  as in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaaaVHh-nh8 Little Io knows all the right strings to pull when it comes to playing with his Dad….like sucking father Yasushi’s ears, something Yasushi loves and which sends him into that amazing blissful state which Yasushi does so well with his amazingly long hair (see Photo above).

Yasushi. He was the most wonderful Boss Capy, as the breeding male is called; very charismatic, caring and sensuous. He had the most beautiful long hair and he loved to be petted. 康。優れた上司カピバラ。美しい長い髪。素晴らしい人格。撫でするのが好きでした

Yasushi. He was the most wonderful Boss Capy, as the breeding male is called; very charismatic, caring and sensuous. He had the most beautiful long hair and he loved to be petted. 康。優れた上司カピバラ。美しい長い髪。素晴らしい人格。撫でするのが好きでした

I hadn’t realised just how playful, and captivating, to watch Capybaras are when playing in groups in a large body of water.

Donguri and her little son Io often play together in the pond. Here he is nuzzling his mother under the chin, which she adores

Donguri and her little son Io often play together in the pond. Here he is nuzzling his mother under the chin, which she adores

And then there is the pampering.  Walking in to their enclosure  and seeing 14 capybaras sitting there, sweet and docile, just waiting to be petted is an experience I wouldn’t miss for the world.  Yasushi with his long hair, all pouffy, his mouth open in ecstasy, showing his beautiful teeth….or little baby Io, so soft and small, responding to your rubs and scratches….looking so, so happy.   Sweet, gentle Donguri, who mostly didn’t want any heavy duty scratching or pampering…she seemed happy to just sit beside me while I gently stroked her, only very occasionally rolling over to be pampered and going  pouffy.  Capybaras often like a vigorous scratch;  they have thick skin.   This is more stimulating, but often the Capybaras prefer more gentle pampering. They love being rubbed on their bottoms, as the sign on the Information Board says.  Their bottom is also furthest away from their teeth!

Donguri, Sweet, Patient Gentle Donguri. My Favorite; the Gentlest Capybara in the Bio Park. Mother or Grandmother of 9 of the 14 Capys there.

 

Donguri, number one in the Bio Park hierarchy. She is a wonderful leader, very wise, very compassionate. She watches over the herd and gives support to any capybara who is suffering or who is in a separate enclosure and missing the herd

Donguri, number one in the Bio Park hierarchy. She is a wonderful leader, very wise, very compassionate. She watches over the herd and gives support to any capybara who is suffering or who is in a separate enclosure and missing the herd

Beautiful, affectionate Syu … deemed one of the most intelligent of the capys, one of the few capybaras who would come when called (though not by name as they do not know their names).

Maple, her mother Keide and Aki (no 1 in the hierarchy and Donguri’s younger sister, though quite different in personality) love to escape in search of long, green grass.  They will split up, waiting by the entry and exit gates, making it impossible for anyone to enter or leave without at least one capybara getting out.

Sweet, Affectionate Yuzu.

Poor old Kobuko (the late Kobuko) had a gate stupidly slammed on her,  when she was half way through, to fruitlessly try to prevent from her getting out.

Kobuko, Wonderful Old Kobuko, 13 years old

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Nina, 7 months old at the time of this photo, a young male who loves being fed and pampered. He will move to another ‘zoo’ when he is about one year old. Male capybaras tend to fight….

There is nothing as magical as 15 Capybara singing in unison.   This chorus goes on for up to half an hour or longer.   Some afternoons we were treated to the chorus on at least 2 or 3 occasions over the course of the afternoon, other afternoons no  chorus at all.   First there is watermelon time, followed by napping and pampering.   One or two Capys make their escape to the freedom of the pond, while the others remain in the pampering area.   Then the magical, singing chorus starts as the Capybaras begin to think about moving en masse into the water.  After about 10 minutes the exodus begins.  The 4 youngest tend to be reluctant to leave since they get the most pampering and feeding, and they know that if they stay behind every visitor who comes into their enclosure will buy at least one container of ‘Capybara’ pellets to feed them.

Momiji, Sharpening her Teeth, at the Entrance to the Capybara Hideaway. For Part of Each Day the Capybaras Disappear Completely under the Walkway, on the Far Side of this Netting. You can often Hear their Magical Sounds, though.

Reluctantly the young ones join the others in their hiding place under the walkway.   Their ‘singing’ continues to fill the air, the most captivating sound you can imagine.    This chorus is also triggered by thoughts of escape.  On several days some of the capybaras, occasionally as many as 8 or 10, have gathered beside the entrance/exit gates waiting for an opportune moment to make their escape.  It is always the same 5 who make it to freedom.  These include Maple, her mother Keide and Aki.  On Thursday, 9th August,  there would have been a very successful mass exodus if Marc hadn’t been there to keep pushing them back in, and direct people away from opening the gate right in front of a capy intent on escape.

I hope the capys don’t hold it against ME, that Marc prevented them from escaping.   Only Keide escaped this time.   Her goal was the grassy hillside just round the corner from the Capybara enclosure.   She looked a little concerned to be separated from the herd.   And most of the Capybaras followed her trail from within the enclosure, walking along the boundary, looking very worried that she had become separated from the flock.  Yasushi, in particular, looked very paternalistic and concerned, as if he felt responsible for his flock of Capybaras.

Sometimes Kaede goes to visit Ran, the future Boss Capybara.  He is in solitary confinement in a small pen with nowhere to swim, so her visits are a real boost for his spirits.  (Not that she can get into his enclosure;  they can only sniff each other, separated by a tall concrete wall.)

Aki Sets Offf on her Great Adventure, having First had her Fill of Lush Green Grass

Everything comes alive with the magical sound of singing Capybaras.    You can hear them calling in this video.  In real life it is a million times more magical….more than a million times even… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z6o5DC3–2A

 

What I find interesting is how little the proximity of large numbers of visitors has impacted on the group dynamic of this ‘herd’.   It’s almost as if the humans provide entertainment (pampering and feeding) the way a human might go to a Spa or restaurant.  As it is mainly a procession of strangers who visit the capybara enclosure,  the capybarass don’t bond with people the way a pet capybara does, so the social ties of the herd are not affected and are as strong as with a wild herd.   The Bio Park is only open 9-5 (5.30 in August) so the rest of the time they are free of humans.

In 2013 and 2014 the Boss Capy, ie the male capybara, was kept in a separate, small enclosure.  This is not ideal and creates a great deal of stress and frustration for both the female capybaras and the male, who want to be together as they would be in their natural habitat.

Capybaras Playing

If anyone wants any information on how to get there and where to stay:

Here is a link to my blog giving complete details on how to get to Nagasaki Bio Park from Tokyo, Sasebo or Nagasaki. There is information on accommodation as well: https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/how-to-get-to-nagasaki-bio-park-to-see-the-adorable-capybaras-of-course-there-are-lots-of-other-animals-many-of-which-you-can-pet-and-botanical-gardens-its-very-easy/

The Bio Park is in Saikai National Park, an incredibly beautiful area in north western Kyushu.  Rural and undeveloped, with stunning seascapes, mountains and over 200 small islands.  There are golf courses as well, but I can’t imagine you would want them. More Videos of these Irristable Animals at:   http://www.youtube.com/user/rangdaaaa/videos?view=0

Capybaras Resting on Capuchin island

Capybaras Resting on Capuchin island

Here’s a film NHK, the National Broadcaster in Japan, made of our visit to Nagasaki Bio Park;  the Capybaras are natural thespians:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdQlwmoNJzs 

Because of ‘zoos’ like Nagasaki Bio Park, where visitors can mingle with and pet the Capybaras, there are many more people who adore Capybaras in Japan, than in any other country.      

Linda Lombardi, one of the leading writers about animals in the Western world, has written this very informative and well researched piece about the history of Capybaras in Japan.

リンダロンバルディ(動物に関する有名な作家)は、日本のカピバラのこの歴史を書き込みます。非常に興味深い。賛美長崎バイオパーク

http://www.tofugu.com/2014/01/06/japan-capybaras-and-me-a-love-story/

  Of course there are many other animals at Nagasaki Bio Park.

Red and Green Macaws from South America

The Tapirs got very excited during a thunder storm, frolicing and canoodling in their pond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDOeN-mxYDY

Tapir

If you walk past the spectacularly colored flamingoes at about 4.30, when they are waiting to be fed, their evocative calls recreate the sounds of the tropics, transporting you to some far off land.

Spectacularly Colored Flamingoes

There is also the Botanical Flower Dome where you can see a profusion of brilliantly colored tropical flowers

Many Different Beautiful Types of Orchids are in in the Flower Dome

Many Different Beautiful Types of Orchids are in in the Flower Dome

In the Flower Dome

In the Flower Dome

Here is a link to the Bio Park website: http://www.biopark.co.jp/en/guidemap/

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Here is a blog in French about Nagasaki Bio Park with lots of excellent photos including lots of photos of the capybaras:
http://www.anaisetpedro.com/divers/japon-2015-le-bio-park-de-sasebo-a-nagasaki/comment-page-1/#comment-356704

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