The Capybara Scandal

I am trying to stop capybaras becoming the next “must have” exotic pet craze, and suffering the same fate as potbellied pigs, when they become large and difficult to handle.

I was talking to a lady who runs an Animal Refuge in Indiana who already has 2 capybaras who she rescued. She said there was a growing number of people buying female capybaras in order to mate them, and make money out of selling their babies. She expects to have many more capybaras who need to be rescued, because there are now so many breeders, and so many people who want a cute pet capybara.

When capybaras are portrayed as “cute” (dressed in clothes, hats and sunglasses) you create a market for pet capybaras among people who are not really interested in capybaras, but just love their cuteness. These people have no understanding of a capybara’s needs, and no desire to spend time doing the necessary research.

Capybaras are happiest as part of a herd in their natural habitat. These capybaras are in the Llanos of Colombia

People need to know that pet capybaras are sometimes aggressive. As they grow older and bigger, capybaras become very powerful. They have very sharp teeth (the Amerindians, in South America, use capybara teeth as weapons, attached to poles). Not many people want a pet who can cause painful, even serious, injuries.

Please see my blog: A Pet Capybara: Should I Have One?    https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/a-pet-capybara-should-i-have-one/

The leading breeder of capybaras stopped selling capybaras to the public as pets, about 8 years ago, because so many pet capybaras suffered, often dying prematurely or ending up in animal refuges.

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

Many pet capybaras die prematurely due to tooth problems, inappropriate diet and stress.

A friend, who runs an animal refuge, reminded me of the craze for potbellied pigs, not so long ago. When these potbellied pigs grew larger, many were abandoned and ended up in refuges. The same is beginning to happen with capybaras.

Capybaras are very sensitive emotionally; they are intelligent, sentient beings who can think and feel.

If you look in Ran’s eyes you can see how frightened he is

I was heartbroken to learn that during the extreme cold spell in February 2021, many pet capybaras suffered frostbite. This indicates that most people who get pet capybaras should not. This has happened before. Over the years I have been horrified to hear of capybaras suffering frostbite in North America. If I had capybaras living outside in extreme weather conditions, I would usher them into my house, and if necessary cover them with blankets. No capybara should suffer frostbite.

I find it very depressing that people who say they care about capybaras like to see capybaras dressed in clothes. No one who dresses a capybara in clothes should have one of these remarkable animals.

It seems that most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. Like everyone who understands animals, I don’t understand why people like seeing capybaras in dresses. One of the reasons people love capybaras is they are so cute – naked!

People should know that capybaras don’t like wearing clothes. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who understands animals. I have witnessed first-hand how uncomfortable and unhappy capybaras are in clothes. Being made to wear clothes also interferes with the relationship between a pet capybara and their owner. The capybara is confused why someone they love is doing this to them.

I came across a website, by accident, which advertised capybaras for sale. These were capybaras who had outgrown their “baby” cuteness. They varied in age from about nine months to 3 years. The way in which they were described by the people selling them was heartbreaking. One seller described his capybara as “Sold as is, with defects”, as if he was selling a used car. Another advertised his capybara as: “Cannot be handled”; I wondered what had caused this capybara to become so unhappy and aggressive. Another seller described the capybara he was selling as “Suitable for display” as though this sensitive, living being was an inanimate object with no feelings or needs. I was in tears thinking about the unhappy lives humans had created for these loving animals. And I was appalled at the lack of compassion, concern or morality of the people selling these unwanted capybaras.

I was in conversation recently with a man who wanted to keep a capybara as a pet. He was convinced he could give the capybara a better life than the capybara would experience in the wild! Research has shown that wild animals kept as pets suffer much more stress than if they were living in the wild, in their natural habitat.  I was horrified at this man’s lack of understanding and arrogance. He obviously had no understanding whatsoever of animals, and unfortunately was not interested in learning.

Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him
Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him

It is well known that the market for “cute” animal photos and videos is detrimental to Animal Welfare. In some countries it encourages people to buy wild animals as pets when in fact these wild animals are totally unsuited to becoming pets and usually suffer. It also results in an increasing number of zoos, often very small and cramped, which house cute animals in prisonlike conditions. These animals suffer immense stress in small, unsuitable enclosures, often with concrete floors. In the case of capybaras, who are semi aquatic, their water source is a small plastic tub often barely larger than the capybara himself, when they need a body of water large enough for them to swim and play.

Capybara cafes should be banned. A cafe is a very stressful and unsuitable habitat for a wild animal. Animals in captivity should always be able to express their natural behaviours and have some control over their lives. Capybaras need to have access to grazing and a pond 24/7. Nobody who understands animals would want to see a capybara, or any other wild animal, in a cafe.

We humans cause so much suffering to the animals we call “cute”. Capybaras, and all other species, are so VERY MUCH MORE than cute.

For more on this topic see my blog: “Animal Manifesto, Animals Are Real Not Cute”

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/animal-manifesto-animals-are-real-not-cute/

Anyone who understands animals and cares about capybaras will be very concerned about the welfare of the growing number of capybaras being bought as pets.

There is an increasing number of people breeding capybaras for sale as pets to meet this demand. The result is capybaras suffer, and end up in refuges.

Some of the people who say they love capybaras, understand animals and care about the welfare of capybaras. Other people who say they like capybaras, just like their cuteness and want them as entertainment, but have no understanding of, or interest in, their welfare. Unfortunately, I believe the majority of people who say they like capybaras, are in the latter category. I believe this is partly because most people cannot see life from an animal’s perspective. My mission is to prevent capybaras from suffering by helping people to understand the needs of these remarkable, sentient beings.

Capybara Enclosure Design. Husbandry and Welfare of Capybaras in Zoos and Captive Environments

 

I am afraid I have had to remove the photos as some nasty person has been removing the watermark from my photos and uploading them to the internet. It is illegal to remove the watermark.

 When designing an enclosure for capybaras it is essential to provide them with an environment in which they can display their natural behaviours. The two most important requirements for a capybara enclosure are a large pond/pool and access to grazing.

wn-branfere-july-2012-murmel-tier

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

Animal Welfare is the foundation of what all good zoos do. We can provide good Animal Welfare by taking a behaviour-based husbandry approach to how we manage animals. That means we do not focus on what we are providing for the animals. Rather we focus on what the animal’s behaviour is telling us that the animals’ need. We do this by recognising that all of the behaviours which an animal exhibits are meaningful, and therefore helpful in informing us about what that animal may need.

Behaviour based husbandry incorporates all elements of good animal welfare: good health, psychological well-being, and the expression of natural behaviours. In addition to the design and enrichment of the enclosure, we MUST also ensure positive human animal relationships. The capybara must have choices so that he/she has some control over his life, his environment and his daily routines, as he would in the wild in his natural habitat.

 

This video:  This excellent keeper has put branches of bamboo hanging from bushes around the enclosure to enrich the lives of these capybaras kept in captivity. Capybaras love bamboo. It is vitally important that animals kept in captivity live in an environment that stimulates them mentally and physically. Many animals in zoos suffer extreme stress because they are bored, often living in small, totally unsuitable enclosures. Every capybara should have access to grass in their enclosure and a decent sized pool. Many capybaras in Japan and America live in small enclosures with a concrete or hard earth floor and a small tub of water, sometimes barely large enough for them to fit into. Capybaras are semiaquatic, with partially webbed feet, and it is essential that they have a pond or pool large enough to swim around freely and exercise.

It is imperative that keepers do not try to control capybaras. Rodents, as a species, are particularly intolerant of being controlled. Keepers must understand capybara behaviour. They must be sensitive to a capybara’s mood and what the capybaras’ behaviour is communicating, otherwise the capybara will suffer stress.

In order to understand capybara behaviour the keeper must immerse himself in the lives of the capybaras in his care. He must learn the relationships between the capybaras in the herd. He must be aware that these relationships may change. He must be able to distinguish between different behaviours in order to understand their significance. A good capybara keeper will intuitively understand animal behaviour. He will need to be sensitive and intelligent. He will need to have the patience and interest in capybara behaviour to spend long hours observing capybara behaviour.

Positive human capybara interactions are the foundation of providing good welfare for the capybaras we manage. These capybaras rely on us to provide for all their needs: food, shelter, enrichment, mating opportunities and companionship. If we are unresponsive, negative, unpredictable or aggressive in our interactions with our capybaras we can create significant stress for them.

At all times it is vitally important that we are aware of how what we do may affect our capybaras.

In 2009 Vicky A. Melfi, Zoologist and Animal Welfare Scientist, Identified three primary gaps in our knowledge and approach to zoo animal welfare. Two of these are relevant to capybaras:

One: We tend to focus on indicators of poor welfare and assume that a lack of poor welfare is equivalent to good welfare. However, a lack of poor welfare does not necessarily indicate good welfare.

Two: it is important that we look at an animal’s housing and husbandry from the perspective of what that species needs and not from a human perspective.

Zoos have traditionally built hygienic enclosures that meet human requirements in terms of cleaning and sweeping and housing structures, but which do not provide for the psychological needs of the animals they are designed to house.

In good zoos today these traditional enclosures have been redeveloped or modified as we recognise that animals have very different behavioural priorities to people. Understanding Animal Behaviour is vital in order to provide appropriate housing and husbandry. It is important to remember that the expression of their natural behaviours has evolved over millions of years and conferred evolutionary success and indeed the survival of this species.

The size of the enclosure should be about one acre or half a hectare for a herd of about 15 capybaras. The size required for the enclosure will depend to some extent on the size of the herd. The landscape of the enclosure should reflect the natural habitat of a capybara living in the wild as far as possible.

Capybaras are semiaquatic, and can be very energetic and playful in water, therefore a large pond or pool should be provided. Capybaras are grazing animals, grasses form the staple of their diet, which means they should have access to grass.

 This five year old female capybara escaped from her enclosure where there was no grazing in order to eat grass. Interestingly capybaras often know what food is best for them. The capybaras at one zoo do not like the carrots which are given to them and try to escape in order to eat grass.It is also essential that the keepers who care for the capybaras have a deep interest in and understanding of capybara behaviour and animal welfare. They must spend time observing the capybaras so that they can recognise behaviours and understand the relationships between the individual capybaras in order that they can manage the herd to ensure the best welfare and to avoid aggression. They should observe the condition of the capybaras including their size/weight, the condition of their coat/hair, how much they eat, how they chew (for possible tooth problems) and any signs of abnormal behaviours so if there are any developing health issues these can be treated at an early stage.

Capybaras in captivity may be fed pellets and appropriate vegetables to ensure that their dietary requirements are met. There should be a feeding station for each capybara to ensure that every capybara gets enough to eat. If capybaras in a herd are competing for food this will lead to aggression. Once aggression becomes established in the herd it is extremely difficult to eradicate. For this reason every effort should be made to ensure that feeding does not involve competition between capybaras for food. The keepers may need to sit beside and guard some capybaras at the bottom of the hierarchy if they are not getting enough to eat because other larger and more senior (in the hierarchy) capybaras intimidate them and push them away from food.

In their natural habitat in South America researchers have not found evidence of a female hierarchy. However, in captivity where the capybaras are living in a confined environment and sometimes competing for food or facilities, a strong female hierarchy develops. The keepers will need to be observant and ensure the well-being of capybaras at the bottom of the hierarchy. Male capybaras are hierarchical and can be very aggressive to other males including their own adult male offspring.

If a capybara is so badly injured that he/she has to be taken out of the herd and put in a separate enclosure to recover from the wounds, it will almost certainly be impossible for that capybara to be reintroduced back into the herd. The capybaras most likely to attack an injured capybara are those immediately below the injured capybara in the hierarchy.

Enclosure Enrichment: the purpose of enrichment, both environmental and cognitive, is to ensure the well-being of animals in captivity. Enrichment allows animals to make choices and lead interesting and stimulating lives, and to be able to exhibit their natural behaviours.

The physical enrichment of the enclosure should include:

A large pool or pond. The capybaras should have easy access to this pond or pool. Depending on the number of capybaras the size of the pond/pool should be at least 12 feet/4 m x 24 feet/8 m. Most of this pond should be 4 feet/1.3 m in depth, but some areas should be at shallow depths of 1 and 2 feet, .3 and .6 m, so that the capybara can rest partially submerged in water, and also easily get in and out of the pond/pool. When the weather is hot capybaras go into the water to thermoregulate, i.e. to keep cool. They also seek water as a refuge from danger. In captivity a capybara might be being chased and therefore seek refuge in water. Additionally, if the capybara is injured in some way, perhaps his/her teeth have broken at the root (capybaras have hypsodont teeth which means they grow continually. These broken teeth will grow back in just over two weeks) and the capybara feels vulnerable, he/she will seek refuge in water.

Shelter: the enclosure must provide some shelter from sun, heat and rain. This could be provided by trees and bushes, or by a man-made structure.

Enclosures in Cooler Climates: Capybaras prefer a temperature of at least 24°C or 75°F. If the capybara enclosure is in a climate with cold winters than the capybaras must be provided with a sheltered hut with heating to prevent suffering and frostbite.

Grass: it is essential for capybaras to have access to grazing. Capybaras’ digestive system has evolved over 30 million years for a diet of grasses which are high in fibre but low in calories. In their natural habitat, in South America, capybaras eat grasses, aquatic plants, sedges and chew on the bark of bushes and trees. For the health of capybara teeth it is essential that they have access to coarse materials to chew on in order to control the growth of their teeth. Several capybaras in captivity have died because their diet was based on soft foods which did not ensure the health of their teeth. It is essential for animals in captivity to exhibit their natural behaviours and grazing is one of the most important behaviours for a capybara. Capybaras did not evolve to eat two meals a day; they must be allowed to have access to grazing/appropriate food when they are hungry.

Diet: the capybara diet should be augmented by the provision of appropriate pellets. If there is insufficient grass to provide enough grazing daily than green leaf vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce etc can also be fed. The vegetable should not have a high sugar content. Capybaras should not eat carrots as carrots have too high a level of Vitamin A and this can cause liver damage. Many capybaras in Japan suffer an early death due to liver damage. Capybaras should also not eat fruit because of the high sugar content. A probiotic like Benebac or Bio 3 can be given to treat mild cases of diarrhoea.

Appropriate Vegetation: this should include branches or palm fronds and perhaps leaves which provide soft bedding for the capybaras to lie on when resting or sleeping. Capybaras like to mark their territory by rubbing their anal scent glands over vegetation such as branches and palm fronds. As mentioned above it is essential for the health of capybara teeth that they have access to coarse vegetation, like branches or palm fronds, to chew on. Some capybaras like to chew on stones. These stones must be hard so that they do not disintegrate in the capybaras mouth when chewed, and get swallowed causing injury to their digestive tract.

It is essential that animals in captivity are able to express their natural behaviours. It is also very important that the visiting public should see how animals behave in their natural habitat.

The lives of animals in captivity can be very boring and boredom leads to stress. To avoid boredom and stress the enclosure should provide cognitive and occupational activities to stimulate the minds of the capybaras and encourage physical activity to keep the capybaras healthy.

These enrichment activities can include the appropriate vegetation mentioned above and other natural objects which can be manipulated or played with. Feeding can also be done in a way that provides entertainment for the capybaras. For example, branches of bamboo can be positioned in different parts of the enclosure so that the capybaras have to rise up on their hind legs to eat it or pull it down. Branches of bamboo can be tied to the bushes overhanging the pond/pool so that the capybaras can entertain themselves trying to rise up to eat it. Food pellets can be scattered, or hidden in different areas for the capybaras to find.

The activities described above would also provide cognitive enrichment as the capybaras engage in problem-solving to achieve their food reward.

Sensory and Social Enrichment: capybaras are a highly social and gregarious species. A capybara should never be housed alone, on its own in an enclosure. This would be extremely stressful and would lead to changes in the capybara’s behaviour and personality. Stress levels can be determined by analysing faeces for the presence of stress hormones like cortisol. Extreme stress can lead to changes in the brain structure and an early death.

As capybaras are extremely social and very responsive to tactile stimulation, it is important that the zookeepers responsible for the capybaras pet them and are very friendly. Initially the capybaras may not trust the keeper, so the keeper first has to gain the trust of the capybara in order to get close enough to pet the capybara. To achieve this the keeper could offer food or perhaps a branch of bamboo, and when the capybara comes close to eat the food the keeper can slowly and gently begin to pet the capybara. Capybaras love to be petted; their hair rises, they lie down and roll over and vocalise. Capybara vocalisations include the most beautiful sounds. Positive human animal relationships are vitally important for the well-being of the capybaras living under the care of humans.

If visitors to the zoo will be able to enter the capybara enclosure it is essential that there is an area of the enclosure which is not accessible to these visitors. This is to allow the capybaras to go somewhere private otherwise they may become stressed if they cannot choose whether they wish to be in the company of human visitors or not. Also, ideally, there should be an island in the pond to which the capybaras can go to escape humans.

Mud: capybaras love to roll in mud. It is good for the condition of their skin and can help to exterminate mites or ticks. Mud provides capybaras with enjoyment and relaxation. Rolling in mud is a natural behaviour which capybaras should be able to exhibit in a captive environment.

At all times it is vitally important that we are aware of how what we do may affect our animals.

The basic Animal Welfare protocol is The Five Freedoms:     

Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.

Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.

Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.

Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

The Five Welfare Domains: However, The Five Freedoms protocol was developed in 1965 to rectify the suffering of farm animals, i.e. animals used in agriculture. The Five Freedoms protocol simply emphasises what is our basic duty but does not go far enough to ensure the well-being that we would want for animals kept in captivity and in zoos. We need to provide animals with enjoyable and positive experiences. To address this, David Mellor, an Animal Welfare Scientist working in New Zealand, has developed The Five Welfare Domains. The aim of The Five Welfare Domains is to ensure that animals have positive physical and emotional experiences. This is essential for good animal welfare and the well-being of animals in captivity.

Capybara Diet. Includes Treatments for Dietary Health Issues.

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2021/10/10/capybara-diet-includes-treatments-for-dietary-health-issues-%e6%b0%b4%e8%b1%9a%e9%a3%b2%e9%a3%9f-%e3%82%ab%e3%83%94%e3%83%90%e3%83%a9%e3%83%80%e3%82%a4%e3%82%a8%e3%83%83%e3%83%88/

 

Why I Would NOT Want to Be A Cute Animal, Especially A Cute Capybara

If I Was a Capybara:

I would not want to be dressed in uncomfortable and demeaning clothes. Most animals, including capybaras, hate wearing clothes. Capybaras are so beautiful why would anyone want to cover any part of a capybara’s body.

wn-branfere-july-2012-murmel-tier

This is the perfect enclosure for a capybara: lots of grass and a large pond. Photo by Martin MurmelTier Hees

I would not want to have to earn my keep in a Capybara Cafe. It is a basic tenet of Animal Welfare that animals in captivity must be allowed to express their natural behaviours. For a capybara this means living in a habitat with unlimited access to grazing and a large pond or pool and a natural habitat with access to sun. A famous capybara lived inside the house and, therefore, did not get the sun his bones needed and his bones degenerated. His vet advised that he be put down to avoid further suffering.

Nobody who understands animals would want to see a capybara in a cafe.

It causes me great unhappiness that most people are not at all interested in me, my relationships with other capybaras, my personality and character. They just like my cuteness and only want to see cute photos of nameless capybaras. They do not want to learn about my species and the typical behaviours of my species

Most people who pretend to like us only want to watch very short videos of capybaras behaving cutely or exhibiting attention grabbing behaviour. They do not want to see slightly longer videos which show the normal range of my behaviour, how I behave with other capybaras and my relationships with other capybaras. Most people who pretend to love animals seem to have a very short attention span. My normal behaviour includes stopping to think or listen before continuing to act. Even a few seconds of inaction, on my part, results in these people becoming bored. The last thing they want to watch is a video where they might learn something about me or about capybaras in general.

Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him

Capybaras do not like to wear clothes. Dressing a pet capybara causes stress and interferes with the bond between the capybara and the human, as the capybara cannot understand why the human is doing this to him

I would not want to live in a zoo where I was imprisoned in a small, concrete floored enclosure with no grass and a tiny tub of water into which I could barely fit. Even a cattle trough would not allow me to swim and play and exhibit my full range of aquatic behaviours, which I so enjoy doing.

In Japan many people find that petting us relieves their stress, even though endless petting often causes us great stress. Because we are so useful as a source of stress relief there are many, many tiny zoos in totally inappropriate places like shopping malls (there are even 2 lions living in a small enclosure in a shopping mall in Japan!), or right next to noisy, polluted main roads.

I had incontrovertible proof today, if proof was needed, that many people in a Facebook capybara group do not care about capybaras when someone in this group asked what capybaras taste like and the moderator of this group thought this question and the concept it brought to mind were perfectly acceptable! Nobody who loves an animal would ever want to know what they tasted like. The very thought of capybaras being eaten brings tears to the eyes of anyone who loves these exceptional animals. People who really love animals would no more consider it acceptable to discuss eating an animal they loved than the husband they loved (or wife).

I realise that most people do not understand animals and cannot see things from an animal’s perspective. Therefore they do not understand what I am saying here.

I wish everyone who claims to like capybaras really loved us and cared about our emotional and physical well-being.

There is a link between the promotion of animals as “cute” and the trade in wild animals. Animals do not benefit in either case. In both cases animals suffer. Most people who are drawn to animals because of their cuteness do not understand animals and have no interest in these animals as sentient beings, individuals with their own unique personalities whose lives are important to them and to the people who love them.

Why Aoba Should Be the Next Female Capybara to Breed at Nagasaki Bio Park青葉が長崎バイオパークで交尾する次の女性カピバラにならなければならない理由. 青葉は赤ちゃんが必要です

           

A keeper, Ban san, at a zoo in Fukuoka is on record as saying “Animal Welfare is not well understood in Japan. Most people in Japan do not understand animals”. Most zookeepers in Japan become zookeepers because they like the outdoor life, not because they like animals! I have only met one Japanese zookeeper who understood animals. The zookeeper training in Japan does not compare with the zookeeper training in Britain. Zookeepers in Britain understand that it is essential that the animals in their care trust the keepers. Very few of the capybaras trust the keepers at Nagasaki Bio Park. This can have grave consequences as Ryoko experienced.

” Aoba Sings Beautifully As She Begs Nagasaki Bio Park “Please Let Me Have Babies” 青葉赤ちゃんを産んでください”

 

In choosing which female capybara should breed it is important to understand the long-term consequences of this decision. The future cohesion of the herd will depend on this decision which is why it is important to choose a capybara who exhibits submissive behaviour as submissive behaviour is essential for the unity of the herd.

NWN Blissful Aoba NIbbled by Babies 21 Sep 2019 006

Aoba would make such a good motherZabon’s babies loved Aoba

Aoba understands the importance of submissive behaviour. This is why Hinase has accepted Aoba. Maple’s female offspring, Milk and Butter, do not exhibit the submissive behaviour needed to ensure the unity of the herd, which is why Hinase does not accept them and is aggressive towards them.

Aoba has the sweetest nature and will always respond to being petted, whereas Milk is moody and only response to being petted when she is in the mood to be petted. Milk can also be quite aggressive which is why Hinase does not like her.

Video: Aoba would be a wonderful mother as you can see in this video.  “Baby Capybaras Love Aoba, Aoba Loves Babies赤ちゃんカピバラは青葉が大好き、青葉は赤ちゃんが大好き”

 

If the future of the Bio Park herd descends only from Zabon and Maple’s offspring there will be more aggression and less cohesion. It would be a mistake to choose a female capybara to mate on the basis of her relationship with humans and her malleability, including the ability of the chief capybara keeper to interfere in the bonding process. (I watched with dismay as Zabon became less and less involved with her pups, as the chief capybara interfered more and more). It is important to understand that the relationship between the capybaras in the herd is the most important herd dynamic to be considered when choosing a female to breed.

Kona’s offspring have inherited his love of being petted so any capybara who is mated with Kona has the potential to give birth to capybaras who are very receptive to the human visitors. There is no need for the keeper to interfere in the bonding process, between mother capybara and newborn pups, in a misguided attempt to make the baby capybaras “friendly” to humans. European zookeepers do not handle newborns until two or three days or longer after they are born. (Choco and Donut were kept in a separate enclosure with their mother, Momiji, for the first six weeks of their lives. Within two days of moving to the main enclosure they were completely relaxed and happy to be petted by humans.

NWN Magnificent Aoba 10 Sep 2019 034

Aoba

At every zoo in Europe Aoba would be the obvious choice to breed. She is a large, very healthy capybara in her prime. She is sweet natured and intelligent. Her mother, Momiji, has invested a great deal in Aoba and the future of her bloodline. Momiji was an outstanding mother.

Momiji was a much better mother than Maple and Zabon. Momiji always gave Aoba milk whenever she demanded and allowed her to suckle for twice the usual length of time; Aoba suckled for 8 months rather than the usual 4 months. Momiji would be an outstanding grandmother and it would be a tragedy for her as well as for Aoba and the Bio Park if Aoba was not allowed to breed.

Missing photo:  Aoba and Zabon’s babies enjoy being together. Zabon was very thin and weak, and she had not bonded properly with her pups, so her babies went looking for other “mothers”. Alloparenting is a natural capybara behaviour and they loved Aoba.  She would be a wonderful mother 

Zabon died 2 months after giving birth.

The decision to mate Zabon for a second year in 2019 was very strange, some might even say cruel, given the suffering Zabon had experienced in 2018 after she gave birth. When Zabon gave birth in 2018 she lost a tremendous amount of weight and was literally skin and bones, she also lost a lot of hair and it seemed touch and go whether she would survive. Zabon also has a chronic foot problem which requires antibiotics to treat, but because she was pregnant she could not be given antibiotics and her foot became extremely swollen and painful. It was so painful that often she was having to hop on three legs. During the later stages of her pregnancy she had great difficulty jumping in and out of the pond when she needed to thermoregulate in the heat of August.

Zabon again became extremely thin after giving birth in 2019. She was often more interested in eating or sleeping than looking after her babies.

In the photos above, you can see how extremely thin Zabon became after giving birth in 2018. She suffered so much and became very weak; too weak to look after her babies.

I have just heard that Zabon died about two months after giving birth. This tragically proves my point that no keeper with an understanding of Capybara Behaviour and Animal Welfare would have chosen to breed Zabon for a second year.

In addition, although Zabon is a very gentle capybara she comes from a very aggressive family. Zabon’s mother, Aki, was so aggressive that she became herd leader at the young age of 3. Her siblings Goemon and Yuzu were also very aggressive.

Unfortunately, Zabon’s babies seen to have inherited the family’s aggressive nature. Ko and Madoka are extremely aggressive, Ko is the most aggressive yearling capybara I have ever encountered. Sasuke and Kikyo also seem very aggressive. The last thing the Biopark needs is more aggressive capybaras.

So choosing to mate Zabon for a second year in 2019, made absolutely no sense.

Maple and her female offspring are not popular with other herd members. Butter is a bit strange, which is probably why Hinase dislikes her, therefore Butter obviously should not breed.

This is some of the submissive behaviour which Aoba exhibits: Aoba nibbles Hinase’s ear and nuzzles her under the chin, both behaviours which Hinase finds very pleasurable. On one occasion Hinase had a very painful mouth wound after Maple bit her. Hinase found some relief in rubbing her morillo which she did many more times than usual each day until the wound healed. Aoba sensed this and went over to Hinase and rubbed Hinase’s morillo using her chin. Aoba is also very sensitive to Hinase’s moods and avoids upsetting her. As a result Hinase has accepted Aoba. I have these behaviours recorded on video (see above and below).

Butter seems oblivious to Hinase’s moods and often behaves in a slightly strange way. Butter can be very aggressive and is not popular with the herd which is why she has gravitated towards humans but this does not make her a good choice for breeding.

If any of Maple’s female offspring were to be mated and become pregnant this would anger Hinase. A heavily pregnant female who is chased by Hinase runs the danger of suffering a miscarriage. ( I believe Ryoko suffered a partial miscarriage when she was frightened by one of the keepers and ran flat out to the edge of the pond. Capybaras seek refuge from danger in water. After a minute or so Ryoko lay down and then experienced three violent spasms. I said to Marc that I thought Ryoko had suffered a miscarriage; she was within three weeks of giving birth at the time of this tragedy. Her pups had to be delivered by C-section. Ryoko became so weak following this procedure that she was attacked by other herd members and she has had to be permanently separated from the herd which is tragic.)

Milk is a much more aggressive capybara than Aoba. It is only her relatively junior place in the hierarchy which keeps her aggression in check.

Hinase particularly hates Butter and frequently chases her. I can understand Hinase’s behaviour as Butter may be slightly mad. Like horses who are not popular with their herd members, Butter and indeed Maple’s other female offspring, seek out human company. This may make them popular with some people but for the future good of the herd, and the dynamic of the herd, these are not the capybaras an informed zoo keeper would choose to breed to.

Aoba comes from the best bloodline at Nagasaki Bio Park. Her grandmother was Donguri, a natural leader who avoided aggression. Donguri was also very compassionate, visiting and giving support to any capybara who had been separated from the herd and was therefore very stressed. Her offspring, Yasuo and Yasuha, and Yamato, and her grandson Choco, inherited this wise, intelligent, compassionate and non-aggressive nature.

“Baby Capybara Aoba is Very Affectionate and Playful 訪問者は青葉友好的な愛情の遊び心が大好き,”

Missing photo:  Zabon’s baby, Kikyo, loved resting on Aoba 

This bloodline: Donguri, her daughter Momiji and Momiji’s daughter Aoba are likely to provide the most desirable capybaras for the future of the herd. This bloodline also includes Choco, one of the most popular capybaras at the Bio Park who pioneered several new behaviours which captivated the visitors who came to see the capybaras, many of whom came specially to meet Choco. Momiji was a fantastic mother and daughter.

NWN 2 black baby Aoba on Momiji 2014

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

Momiji was a much better mother than Maple or Zabon. She was always watchful of her young pups and when Choco, Donut and Macaroni joined the main herd at six weeks of age, Momiji took them on a grand tour of the enclosure and the pond showing them the best places to jump out of the pond and to escape the visitors. Momiji always gave her pups milk when they demanded, no matter how greedy and demanding they were. Maple, by contrast, frequently sat on a bench high above her pups, to prevent them from being able to suckle, consequently Cookie and Butter were much smaller than Aoba even though they were a little older.

To repeat: It Would Be Very Misguided, and a tragedy for Nagasaki Bio Park, Aoba and Momiji If Aoba Was Not Allowed to Mate.

Animal Manifesto: Capybaras are Real Not Cute 動物宣言:水豚是真實的。 不只是可愛的娛樂 動物のマニフェスト.動物は本物ですかわいらしくない

Anyone who understands animals and cares about capybaras will be very concerned about the welfare of these very emotionally sensitive, sentient beings. If capybaras are portrayed simply as “cute”, dressed in clothes, hats and sunglasses, they attract people who are not really interested in them. Increasingly, too many of these people are buying capybaras to keep as pets, without understanding their needs. The result is capybaras suffer and end up in sanctuaries and refuges.

When wild animals are portrayed simply as cute, with no thought to their welfare and needs, both emotional and physical, they suffer. This is why I hate to see photos of capybaras in capybara cafes, or capybara dressed up. Capybara cafes should be banned, a cafe is a totally inappropriate habitat for a capybara. Capybaras do not like to wear clothes, or hats or sunglasses.

I was talking to a lady who runs a sanctuary in Indiana with 2 rescued capybaras. She said there was a growing number of people buying female capybaras in order to mate them and make money out of selling their pups. She is expecting to end up with many more capybaras who need to be rescued.

It is well known that the market for “cute” animal photos and videos is detrimental to Animal Welfare. In some countries it encourages people to buy wild animals as pets when in fact these wild animals are totally unsuited to become pets and usually suffer. It also results in an increasing number of zoos, often very small and cramped, which house cute animals in prisonlike conditions. These animals suffer greatly in small, unsuitable enclosures, often with concrete floors and in the case of capybaras, who are semi aquatic, their water source is a small plastic tub often barely larger than the capybara himself. We humans cause so much suffering to the animals we call “cute”. Capybaras, and all other species, are so VERY MUCH MORE than cute.

Capybara cafes, and indeed most animal cafes should be banned. A cafe is a very stressful and unsuitable habitat for a wild animal. Animals in captivity should always be able to express their natural behaviours and have some control over their lives. Nobody who understands animals would want to see a capybara, or any other wild animal, in a cafe.

WN 40% Kin Hides 03 July 2017 010
Kin was always frightened and spent much of the day hiding behind this wooden board in her small wooden hut. The sound of the visitors approaching was amplified by the wooden floorboards, wooden walls around which the sound reverberated, and broken concrete over which the visitors walked. Every time a child screamed she cowered in fear. At the opposite end of her enclosure was a tunnel and visitors made strange loud noises to hear the echo which frightened her even more. Her enclosure was small, the floor was entirely concrete and very uneven making it difficult for her to lie down. The people she was most frightened of were the keepers

In my videos and explanations I try to show the capybaras’, who I know so well, natural behaviour which is so much more interesting than cute photos of baby capybaras. Anyone who truly loves and cares about animals will want to know them at a much deeper level than merely “cute”. Older animals are invariably more interesting. As the capybaras grow older they develop their own individual personalities and character.

In an increasingly stressful world I understand the role that animals play in creating a refuge. Cute animals represent a world that is warm and welcoming, an escape from the frustrations and evils that too often represent the world of man. I see an analogy between pinup girls and cute animal photos. Neither do justice to the living beings the photos represent. Photos of cute animals represent a two-dimensional image, and in the case of animals, the animals suffer since their needs are too often overlooked in man’s selfish pursuit of cuteness, entertainment and a refuge at the expense of these animals.

The video below is Ran who was living in Kin’s horrible enclosure when I first visited in 2012. He died prematurely at a very young age almost certainly caused by stress. You can see how frightened he was all the time in this video. The fear in his eyes is palpable

Much of the blame for this growing danger to Animals’ Welfare lies in the way animals are increasingly being promoted as cute by YouTube and the world’s media. YouTube promotes videos of wild animals being kept as pets but a life as a pet is usually completely unsuitable for a wild animal.

If you look at her eyes you can see how frightened she is. It is very stressful for any animal to live in a constant state of fear

In many countries particularly in Asia, including Japan, the media portrays wild animals as being cute and cuddly with the result that most people in these countries do not understand animals but simply view them as cute, as though they were animated cuddly toys. In Japan, to satisfy this market for cute animals, there are an enormous number of zoos which occupy very little space, sometimes even in shopping malls, where cute animals like capybaras, even lions in one case, are displayed in small, prisonlike enclosures totally unsuited to their needs. Capybaras are semiaquatic but many of these capybaras have only a small plastic tub into which they can barely squeeze. Some of the capybaras I have seen in videos look deformed.

Several times every day her friends in the herd swam to the far side of the pond and climbed the rocky hill and sat beside the boundary fence to be as close to Kin as they could possibly get. In this photo from left are Sumire, Momiji and Ryoko

One friend who visited a small zoo in Osaka said the animals seemed very stressed and exhausted by all the petting and attention they received.

Marc and I were the only people who petted Kin. She was the sweetest most responsive capybara and it broke my heart the way the keepers completely ignored her. When I fed her by hand she was so gentle

It is vitally important that wild animals in captivity are able to display their natural behaviours. In the case of capybaras this means having a reasonably large enclosure with access to grazing and a good sized body of water. For more on this please look at my blog:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/2017/08/27/capybara-enclosure-design-capybara-management-and-the-welfare-of-capybaras-in-zoos-and-captive-environments/

In some states in America it is relatively easy to keep a wild animal as a pet. Some of the people who keep wild animals as pets do so to increase their own status, find fame or to make money. In the case of capybaras people see videos of these exceptionally affectionate and gregarious animals being kept as pets and think “I want one” without having any understanding of the needs of these complex, highly emotional and intelligent animals. It seems many of these people can’t even afford the often expensive vet bills charged by the exotic animal vets who are the only vets with the knowledge to treat a sick or injured capybara.

Levels of the stress hormone cortisol are much higher in some wild animal species kept as pets and bonded with humans than in these species when they are bonded with other members of their own species. I suspect the same is true with capybaras. I certainly know of one capybara whose life is very stressful because he is bonded with humans.

It is very stressful for a capybara to be bonded with a human. Very few humans can spend all day at home so when the human who the capybara has bonded with leaves the home the capybara becomes exceptionally anxious and unhappy. Capybaras are herd animals and if a member of the herd disappears he/she will almost certainly never return having been killed by a predator. Capybaras are exceptionally sensitive emotionally as they need to be in order to assess the mood of other capybaras in their herd and avoid conflict. This sensitivity results in pet capybaras becoming stressed as they do not understand much of the behaviour of the humans they live with.

One day Kin managed to escape. She made her way to the entrance gate to her old enclosure where she had lived happily with all the other capybaras and looked in so longingly with this very sad expression on her face. Kin had lived with the herd until the day her sister, Gin, attacked her so badly that she had to be taken out of the herd to recover.

Baby animals are very cute and none more so than baby capybaras. However, as they grow older and stronger it is common for them to challenge the humans they live with. In the wild capybaras negotiate hierarchy by aggression and intimidation. When capybaras are bonded with humans they view the humans as their herd and turn this natural aggression in pursuit of hierarchy on the human. The pet capybara wants to be number one in the herd hierarchy replacing the human.

Many capybaras kept as pets are unhappy and this unhappiness can lead to aggression against the humans who control their lives. Not many people can deal in a positive and successful way with an aggressive capybara. An adult capybara weighs about 50 kg and has exceptionally sharp teeth. Most humans are no match for an unhappy capybara who vents his unhappiness by becoming aggressive. Capybaras can move extraordinarily quickly and can be very unpredictable. One minute they are resting, the next minute they have whipped round and attacked you.

I came across a website by accident which advertised capybaras for sale. These were capybaras who had outgrown their “baby” cuteness. They varied in age from about nine months to 3 years. The way in which they were described by the people selling them was heartbreaking. One seller described his capybara as “Sold as is with defects. Cannot be handled” as if he was selling a used car. Another seller described the capybara he was selling as “Suitable for display” as though this sensitive, living being was an inanimate object with no feelings or needs. I was in tears thinking about the unhappy lives humans had created for these loving animals. And I was appalled at the lack of compassion, concern or morality of the people selling these unwanted capybaras.

Sumire regularly escaped from the capybara enclosure and went to visit Kin. They called to each other and climbed on their hind legs trying to get closer to each other. Kin’s mother is her grandmother.

Many zoos throughout the world keep animals in small, often concrete floored enclosures which are completely unsuited to the needs of these living beings who have feelings and needs and whose lives are important to them. Some zoos split up family groups or introduce unrelated animals into a group of a highly social species like elephants resulting in death and extreme depression. This was the case with Denver zoo and its elephants. Every animal is an individual often with very similar emotions to humans. In the case of mammals we share a common ancestry and very similar brain structures and neurochemicals. There is a growing body of research showing how rats feel compassion, will help another rat who is too weak to access food by dragging food over to him/her and will give up a treat in order to avert the suffering of another rat.

“Capyboppy” by Bill Peet. How many people who say they love this book have actually read it? カピバラ「capyboppy」の物語

Capyboppy

Capyboppy. Photo by Bill Peet

 

Bill Peet, aged (I’m guessing) about 17, persuades his parents to let him have a Capybara as a pet. Capyboppy arrives, and immediately settles in, acting for all the world as if he owns the place…easily the most important member of the family. He chews everything and terrorises the cats, but his captivating charms ensure he wins the hearts of the family. Bill’s mother is particularly captivated, she pampers him with showers in the morning and in the evening he sits on her lap and watches TV with the family. At weekends he plays with Bill’s friends in the swimming pool, the centre of attention.

 

Capyboppy Hates Being Banished to This Shed at Night. No Capybara Should Ever Sleep Alone at Night. In the wild they would be surrounded by their herd.

Capyboppy Hates Being Banished to This Shed at Night. No Capybara Should Ever Sleep Alone at Night. In the wild they would be surrounded by their herd.  Drawing by Bill Peet.

 

The only part of his daily ritual he doesn’t like is when he is dispatched on his own to the garage to spend the night alone. Capybaras are exceptionally social animals, and a capy in the wild would never sleep alone.

 

Capyboppy on Bill's Mother's Lap, Looking So Happy, Loving the Attention.   Drawing by Bill Peet

Capyboppy on Bill’s Mother’s Lap, Looking So Happy, Loving the Attention. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

When summer comes Bill goes away with some friends. The parents, finding that a wild animal can make a slightly unruly pet when its closest friend abandons it, decide to make an enclosure for Capyboppy in the garden where he can spend the summer. Banished from the house, and the socialising he needs, he becomes depressed.

 

"These Plants Are Tasty"  Drawing by Bill Peet

“These Plants Are Tasty” Drawing by Bill Peet

 

One day a young boy, a friend of the family, comes over to visit and goes out to feed Capyboppy some grass. In his confused and depressed state Capyboppy bites him. Bill’s younger brother gives Capyboppy a ferocious kick which sends him to the bottom of the swimming pool where he stays a considerable time. Eventually he surfaces and crawls to a patch of grass where he remains motionless.

The family ignore him despite the fact that he has suffered a serious wound as a result of the kick. No effort is made to check up on him or to take him to a vet, even when he has not moved at all for hours. Two days later the family belatedly wonder if he is still alive!

Although the boy who was bitten does not in any way hold Capyboppy responsible, the family decide they can no longer keep him and he is sent to a zoo. Despite the obvious signs that Capyboppy is being bullied by the hippos who share his enclosure, the family leave him there. The book ends at this point. Capyboppy is eventually attacked and killed by a guanaco. This all takes place in the 1960s.

 

Capyboppy Enjoying His Shower

Capyboppy Enjoying His Shower. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

Bill Peet went on to do artwork for Disney, and his talent as an artist can be seen in the many excellent drawings featuring Capyboppy, which completely capture his engaging personality and his exceptionally expressive capybara face.

 

Capyboppy enters his new home. The cats are terrified! Capyboppy completely ignores them.

Capyboppy enters his new home. The cats are terrified! Capyboppy completely ignores them. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

I enjoyed the first half of the book, but overall I found it deeply depressing and I am stunned that so many people claim to like it and recommend it for children.   Perhaps they only remember the first part of the book, the happy times for Capyboppy.    Otherwise they cannot possibly be true animal lovers.

 

Capyboppy loves swimming with Bill's friends. He is the centre of attention.

Capyboppy loves swimming with Bill’s friends. He is the centre of attention. Drawing by Bill Peet

 

The moral of the story: if you are going to have a pet and most especially if you are hoping to turn a wild animal into a house pet, do your homework. Make sure you understand its needs and be certain you will still find it enchanting when it grows out of its small, cute baby phase. Most of all, are you the sort of person who will act responsibly and always put your pet’s needs first, before your own needs and desires.

The Peets appear to have given little thought to Capyboppy’s emotional well being as he grew older and larger; ultimately abandoning him to his fate at the zoo in LA despite the warning signs that the hippos with whom he shared the enclosure would never provide him with the companionship he desperately needed.

 

"This Handbag Is Tasty"

“This Handbag Is Tasty”. Drawing by Bill Peet

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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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