Você pode ter uma experiência maravilhosa de capivara no Brasil no Sitio das Capivaras. You Can Have a Wonderful Capybara Experience in Brazil at Sitio das Capivaras

Há uma fazenda em São Pedro do Butiá de propriedade do Gervasio onde você pode passar o dia todo com as capivaras por apenas R $ 30 o carro (£ 4,50).

Existem parques em muitas cidades brasileiras com rebanhos de capivaras selvagens. Existem pelo menos 2 parques em Curitiba com manadas de capivaras selvagens. Algumas dessas capivaras podem não ter medo de humanos e podem permitir que você os acaricie. No entanto, sempre existe o perigo de que essas capivaras selvagens confiem muito nos humanos e isso possa deixá-las vulneráveis a ataques, ferimentos ou morte. Amigos meus em Curitiba dizem que nem todo mundo que visita os parques é simpático com as capivaras. Em 2016, antes dos Jogos Olímpicos realizados no Brasil, uma capivara foi morta com uma besta em um parque em Curitiba.

Tragicamente, esta capivara foi baleada com uma besta em um parque em Curitiba, e posteriormente morreu. Tragically, this capybara was shot with a crossbow in a park in Curitiba, and subsequently died

As Capivaras vivem uma vida natural em um habitat gramado com acesso a um grande corpo de água. (Não estive lá, então não sei se é um rio ou lagoa.)

Esta é a página deles no Facebook com muitas fotos e vídeos das capivaras:

https://www.facebook.com/sitiodascapivaras/

O Sítio das Capivaras está localizado na Linha Taipão Fundo no município de São Pedro do Butiá-RS.

Este é um vídeo da bela cidade de São Pedro do Butia, incluindo alguns de seus encantadores moradores de capivara:

There are parks in many Brazilian towns and cities with resident herds of wild capybaras. There are at least 2 parks in Curitiba with herds of wild capybaras. Some of these capybaras may not be frightened of humans and may let you pet them. However, there is always the danger that these wild capybaras might become too trusting of humans and this could leave them open to attack, injury or death. Friends of mine in Curitiba say not everyone who visits the parks are nice to the capybaras. In 2016, prior to the Olympic Games held in Brazil, a capybara was killed with a crossbow in a park in Curitiba.

Tragicamente, esta capivara foi baleada com uma besta em um parque em Curitiba, e posteriormente morreu. Tragically, this capybara was shot with a crossbow in a park in Curitiba, and subsequently died

There is a farm in Sao Pedro do Butiá owned by Gervasio where you can spend all day with the capybaras for only R$ 30 per car (£4.50).

The Capybaras live a natural life in a grassy habitat with access to a large body of water. (I haven’t been there so I don’t know if it’s a river or pond.)

This is their Facebook page with lots of photos and videos of the capybaras:

https://www.facebook.com/sitiodascapivaras/

Sítio das Capivaras is located on the Linha Taipão Fundo municipality of São Pedro do Butiá-RS.

This is a video of the beautiful town Sao Pedro do Butia, including some of its enchanting capybara residents:

What Happened to Ryoko Capybara and How Has That Affected Her Position in The Hierarchy? 涼子さんカピバラは8月16日木曜日の午後に部分的な流産に苦しんでいますか?

                        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.

In the afternoon of Thursday, August 16, 2018 Ryoko and her sister Keiko were sitting beside the entrance gate to the capybara enclosure hoping to escape. Ryoko is the biggest capybara in the herd and her sister Keiko is by far the smallest. They are from the same litter and for the first few months they were a similar size. Because of her small size it is much easier for Keiko to escape which she frequently does. The keepers are quite happy to let her stay outside the enclosure grazing as she needs to put on weight and she never strays far.

Ryoko was heavily pregnant having mated with Kona, the breeding male capybara, at both the beginning and the end of April. I was told the keepers did not think she had become pregnant at the beginning of April. The gestation period for a capybara is generally considered to be five months, although some people believe it is four and a half months.

On seeing that Keiko had escaped the keeper, quite unnecessarily, ran over to the gate at great speed. This alarmed Ryoko who ran as fast as she could to the edge of the pond and sat there looking very upset. She then lay down and experienced three violent spasms. I was very worried that Ryoko had miscarried and when we arrived the following morning I was expecting to see her in a distressed state.

Missing photo

Ryoko gave birth on September 5. She gave birth to 3 pups, one was already dead, another was very weak and died shortly after. Only little Ryosuke survived.  Ryoko is the largest capybara in the herd and was in her prime at four and a half years old. In the wild capybaras reach their prime reproducing age at 4 years and give birth to 4.2 pups on average per litter. Capybaras can give birth to up to 8 pups in one litter.

As the largest capybara in the herd, and in her prime, it might be reasonable to assume that Ryoko is also the healthiest and fittest. I had expected Ryoko to give birth to at least 3 healthy pups and very possibly 4 or 5. I believe the trauma she experienced on August 16 may have caused a partial miscarriage in which the umbilical cord attaching the weak pup (who only lived a short time) to his mother’s uterus was compromised.

  Missing photo

Being heavily pregnant for the first time must be stressful. I was also worried about an additional, unnecessary stress that Ryoko was subjected to. From about the second week in August Ryoko was being separated from the herd for 17 hours a day even though I was told she was not expected to give birth until about the middle of September at the earliest. (On one occasion Ryoko was put in her separate enclosure over an hour and a half early, presumably because the keeper on duty wanted to make a quick getaway at the end of her working day. Ryoko never presented a problem being put in her separate enclosure so subjecting her to this extra separation time was quite unacceptable.)

It is very stressful for a member of this highly social species to be separated from the herd and there is a danger that separation will undermine a capybara’s position in the hierarchy and leave her vulnerable to being attacked. On our last day Maple was aggressive to Ryoko and Ryoko swam away giving the appeasement vocalisation. Maple would never have done this before Ryoko was separated. Ryoko is number three in the hierarchy and Maple is about five in the hierarchy. It is my belief that Ryoko could safely have given birth in the main enclosure as Donguri and Ayu both did. Ryoko is a very intelligent capybara, one of the two most intelligent capybaras in the herd, and I believe she would have found a safe place to give birth.  Obviously once Ryoko gave birth she would have to be separated together with her babies to protect the babies from visitors.

In an email to the chief animal keeper I warned that I thought Ryoko might be in danger of attack because of being separated from the herd for so long. This separation could weaken her place in the hierarchy and leave her vulnerable to aggression from capybaras seeking her place in the hierarchy.

Shortly after giving birth Ryoko suffered a dramatic loss of weight. From a video made at the end of September she appeared to be almost skin and bones. It was heartbreaking to see the largest, fittest capybara in the herd reduced to this. When she was released back into the herd in the main enclosure she was attacked (I have not yet been able to ascertain which capybara or capybaras attacked her). Because of the attack she has had to be separated from the herd once again. In her separate enclosure Ryoko looked extremely stressed and unhappy. Her surviving male pup spends part of every day away from his mother mixing with the capybara herd in the main enclosure. This must have been extremely stressful for Ryoko to be separated from her very young pup.

WN Momiji with bloody nose Maple attack September 4, 2013 149

When Momiji and her babies, Choco, Donut and Ayu’s son Macaroni, rejoined the main herd after 12 weeks of separation before and after she gave birth, Momiji came under constant attack from Maple. It was heartrending to watch poor Momiji. Life was very stressful for her

Researchers in South America have concluded that the dangers of separation for a pregnant female capybara outweigh any possible danger to the pup if the pup is born without the mother being separated from the herd. On my first visit to the capybaras, Fujiko, was separated from the herd at least six weeks before she eventually gave birth. She was put in an enclosure out of sight of the herd which caused a great deal of stress and distress not only to Fujiko but also to members of the herd. Every afternoon her daughters, Ayu and Hinase, would sit by the boundary fence closest to where their mother was, joined by Fujiko’s mother, Donguri, all calling plaintively to her. On some occasions the entire herd would sit here calling to Fujiko.

One afternoon when I was sitting petting Donguri she suddenly stood up and called frantically, then she began to walk over to the boundary fence nearest Fujiko. As we neared the boundary fence Donguri looked up at me appealingly and I realised she wanted me to open the gate so she could be with Fujiko. It broke my heart that I did not have the authority to open the gate and that I could not explain to her how much I wanted to help her but that it was not within my power to do so. Fujiko was moved to an enclosure adjoining the main enclosure after she gave birth and remained there for a further six weeks. In addition to her own two pups, she also nursed Syu and Autumn whose mother, Aki, had died five days after giving birth. When Fujiko returned to the herd she found life very stressful having lost her place in the hierarchy. Seven months later she died.

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Momiji after she was attacked by Maple

In 2013 Momiji found life very stressful when she was separated from the herd before and after giving birth to Choco and Doughnut. She frequently called to the herd. Her mother Donguri came and sat beside the entrance gate to her enclosure for long periods, calling softly to her. When Momiji was reunited with the herd following twelve weeks of separation the very intelligent chief animal keeper put Maple in a separate enclosure during the day for the first few weeks to prevent her from attacking Momiji. After this when Momiji and Maple were in the same enclosure Maple frequently tried to attack Momiji. Maple wanted Momiji’s place in the hierarchy and sensed that the demands of childbirth and nursing her two pups had weakened Momiji. Momiji had lost a lot of weight and was always hungry as I pointed out to the keepers. For some very strange reason there seems to be a reluctance to give a nursing mother extra food.

The demands of giving birth and nursing can undermine the health of a mother if she does not get enough to eat. Capybara babies suckle for four months; the second half of this period of lactation, i.e. the final two months place the heaviest demands on the health and fitness of the mother capybara. Momiji survived in part because of the intelligent intervention of the chief capybara keeper. (Ryoko was given no such protection by the current chief capybara keeper; whoever was attacking Ryoko was not put in a separate enclosure to protect Ryoko.) It also helped that Momiji is very fit and an incredibly strong minded capybara and her mother, Donguri, was leader of the herd. Having Donguri as her mother ensured that Momiji could always share her mother’s food trough.

Missing photo:  Ryoko is always trying to escape. Like Choco she was able to open the gate until they changed the handle, but even now she still tries every day. However, when the chief capybara keeper tried to lure her out of the enclosure for a walk with a huge branch of bamboo, Ryoko was deeply suspicious and refused to go near the gate. She even stopped eating the bamboo she loves rather than follow the chief capybara

The keeper who frightened Ryoko is new and is a very nice person he just needs a little more training. The zookeeper course should teach trainee zookeepers that they must always move amongst the animals in a calm, unhurried way, showing consideration and respect for the animals at all times. This keeper is always rushing, sometimes running, and this always disturbs and sometimes frightens the capybaras.

Missing photo:  On one occasion Marc and I gave Ryoko a few sprigs of bamboo. She looked so happy and sang sweetly for us. Immediately afterwards the chief capybara keeper went over to her with several huge branches of bamboo. As she approached Ryoko stood up nervously, ready to move away quickly if she had to. Ryoko is extremely intelligent and does not trust the chief capybara keeper at all 

Keepers who understand animals would of course instinctively know how to move around the enclosure. They always show respect for the capybaras and move In a calm, relaxed and unthreatening manner. Even when the capybaras escape, keepers who understand animals are always gentle and considerate as they usher the escapees back into their enclosure.

It is imperative that anyone working with animals is able to see the world from the animals’ perspective. This is a fundamental teaching of Animal Welfare Science. Also fundamental to Animal Welfare Science is the knowledge that every behaviour an animal exhibits is meaningful and is the animal’s way of communicating with humans. Animals in captivity must be able to exhibit their natural behaviours, which in the case of capybaras means they should have access to grazing at will and access to a large pond or other body of water as they are semiaquatic. Animals in captivity must also have some control over their lives. Some keepers do not understand this and one keeper uses dog training methods and food to control and manipulate the capybaras in her care. This particularly affects the most senior capybaras in the hierarchy who are already under stress at not being able to fulfil their two most important natural behaviours: to mate and to graze at will. Capybaras are very intelligent and exceptionally sensitive emotionally. They know exactly what this keeper is trying to do and like most rodents species they respond negatively to any effort to control their lives. Capybaras are quite different to dogs who have evolved into a domesticated species over the course of 25,000 years! The result of this unnecessary control and manipulation is extra stress on the herd and capybaras who do not trust the keepers. Ryoko, in particular, is nervous whenever the chief capybara keeper approaches her. This chief capybara keeper should work in the dog section of the zoo.

Capybara Facts and Information. Everything You Wanted To Know About Capybaras カピバラの事実と情報. カピバラについて知りたいすべてのもの. 水豚事實和信息。 你想知道的關於水豚的一切

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.

Capybara Facts and Information (Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris).

The capybara has attracted the attention of explorers and writers to South America from the 16th century onward. They were struck by both its size and its gregariousness and relative tameness. The capybara is the last survivor of a long line of gigantic grass eating rodents that evolved in South America over millions of years. The salient feature of capybara behaviour is undoubtedly their gregariousness.   It is the world’s largest rodent.

Scientific name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris.

NWN Aoba 18 Sep 2015 126

In the past capybaras were also known as Water Pig.

The name, capybara, originates from a word in the language of the indigenous Tupi people (ka’pii which means grass + gwara which means eater). The language of the Tupi was the most widely spoken language in South America in the 16th century and means grass eater although the translation “Master of the Grasses” is more poetic and reflects their diet and to some extent their habitat. There are many, many different names for the capybara in South America, the most common of these include: carpincho, capivara, chiguire, ronsoco.

There are 2 species of capybara:    The less common species is the Lesser Capybara (Hydrochoerus Isthmius) found in eastern Panama, northwestern Colombia and western Venezuela. This is a scientifically distinct species with anatomical differences, a smaller size and genetic differences. The species is fairly common in Panama but increasingly rare in Venezuela. It is threatened by subsistence hunting, the destruction of forested areas and the drainage of swamps. The Lesser Capybara breeds year round, with an average litter size of 3.5 pups. Individuals may be diurnal or nocturnal and solitary or social depending on season, habitat and hunting pressure.

Geographical Location:   Capybaras, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris, are found in Central and South America from Panama to Northern Argentina primarily east of the Andes. They inhabit several types of wetland including gallery forest along rivers, mangroves and marshes. Capybaras reach their highest densities in the seasonally flooded savannas of the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia, and the Pantanal of the Mato Grosso and on Marajo island in Brazil. They are always found in close proximity to water. The highest altitude at which capybaras are found is 4, 500 feet (1500 m). The only South American country with no capybaras is Chile.

Size and Weight: An adult capybara is large! Adult capybaras weigh on average from 40 to 50 kg in the wild (range 35 – 65 kg). In captivity the average weight is between 50 – 60 kg for a healthy capybara. There is no difference in weight between the sexes, but there are differences in size across the capybaras’ geographical distribution, with capybaras in Venezuela smaller than those of central and south eastern Brazil and Argentina, and those found in north-eastern Brazil being smaller still. In length they average about 4 feet (1.2 m) and are up to 2 feet tall (.60 m).

Physical Description:   Capybaras’ skin is thick and sparsely covered with coarse, oily water-resistant fur, varying in colour: red, grey, brown and straw coloured. Some black hairs can be found on the face, rump and limbs.

NWN 40% crop Syrup Q best sparse hair 28 Dec 2016 070

Capybaras have very coarse, sparse hair which dries very quickly

Capybaras have a vestigial tail but this is not visible from a distance. The front legs are shorter than the hind legs. The feet are partially webbed with four toes on the front feet and three toes on the hind feet. The head is large with the nostrils, eyes and ears (which are small and sparsely covered with short hairs, with a mobile fold that closes the ear canal when they submerge) located on the top of their head, so they can hear, smell and see while remaining almost completely submerged, an adaptation to their semi aquatic lifestyle which allows them to keep a lookout for any dangers while remaining almost invisible.  You can see this in the video below:

Semi aquatic lifestyle: Access to water is essential for capybaras. Capybaras’ territory always includes water which is used both as a refuge from predators and to control body temperature. They often seek refuge in water to escape predators (except the Cayman, which will rarely attack a capybara on land, but will often attack a capybara in water).  A Jaguar has to be within 3 feet of a capybara to have a chance of a successful attack.

NWN 40% XXX Aoba heart shaped paw 10 Jan 2017 086

Capybara front paw with 4 toes. Hind paws have 3 toes. This is a photo of the underside of a Capybara’s front foot. Capybaras have partially webbed feet. They have 4 toes on each front foot and 3 toes on each hind foot

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

 

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.

 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.

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.

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.

NWN Romeo Swimming

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.

 

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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US States Which Allow You to Keep a Capybara As a Pet.

Before you seriously consider keeping a capybara as a pet, can I urge you to do the research. Too many capybaras kept as pets die prematurely or end up in refuges. I have written a number of blogs on Capybara Welfare and different aspects of keeping a capybara as a pet, including Diet, Pool Size, How to Treat a Pool to Make It Safe for a Capybara, etc. PLEASE READ THESE. I give links to these blogs at the end of this blog. Please also read these 2 blogs:

Capybara FAQs. The Questions People Always Ask:

A Pet Capybara, Should I Have One?:

What Should I Feed My Pet Capybara? Capybara diet

Below are two of the best links giving information about which States might allow you to keep a capybara as a pet.

NWN Io eating his cecotropes 2012

5 month old Io, Donguri’s little son, eating his cecotropes

However, even within States regulations often vary. Counties, cities and even neighbourhoods may also have their own laws about keeping capybaras as pets. You should also check Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC and R’s) in your area. There may also be regulations included in the Deeds to your home. You may also need to get the agreement of other residents in your area.

Your local Wildlife Fish and Game government department will have more information. Wildlife Fish and Game is also the Department you may have to contact to apply for your license/permit to keep a capybara as a pet. They will want to inspect your property, and if permission is granted there will be further inspections at regular intervals to check on the welfare of your capybara and his/her habitat.

Wildlife Fish and Game in Henderson, Nevada, admitted that they did not know much about keeping capybaras as pets when they issued the permit to keep capybaras as pets to friends of mine. Having read my blogs, they realised how little they knew and became much stricter in issuing permits! (My friends would still have got their permit, but several other would-be capybara pet owners were turned down, which hopefully saved a few capybaras from an unhappy life.)

NWN Magnificent Aoba 10 Sep 2019 034

Aoba

Bear in mind that the information on the Internet about keeping wild animals as pets in different States tends to be general in nature, so you should contact your local authorities for the precise regulations that pertain to keeping a capybara in the place where you live. For example, some websites suggest you cannot keep any wild animal as a pet in Washington State, but in reality this refers primarily to dangerous wild animals. In Washington State you may be able to keep a capybara as a pet depending on the area, particularly if your area does not have sidewalks. However, you may also have to get the agreement of other residents in the area.

The following states generally allow people to keep capybaras as pets: Arizona, Arkansas, Texas, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, Washington, North Carolina, Tennessee; I have also been told parts of New York state. You will still need to get a licence/permit to keep a capybara as a pet in most of the states.

It is much more difficult to get permission to keep a pet capybara in Europe, where Animal Welfare Laws tend to be much stricter. Many European countries do not permit the keeping of wild animals as pets. In some countries you may be able to keep a capybara as a pet if you fulfil very stringent requirements; this may be the case in France and Poland. Keeping a capybara as a pet is illegal in Italy. (A friend of mine in Italy rescued a badly injured nutria who had escaped from the farm where he was being reared for his fur.) Nutrias were brought to Italy for the fur trade and some escaped. There are also escaped wild nutria in Paris in the river Seine, and other parts of France.

These are the best links I could find:

Born Free USA is a National Animal Advocacy nonprofit organisation:

Summary of State Laws Relating to Private Possession of Exotic Animals       (http://www.bornfreeusa.org/b4a2_exotic_animals_summary.php)

This is another useful link: https://www.animallaw.info/content/map-private-exotic-pet-ownership-laws

Remember, not all the information given on the Internet is necessarily entirely accurate.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, read these blogs if you are seriously thinking of keeping a capybara as a pet. Capybaras are exceptionally sensitive and emotional (they have very high emotional intelligence) and suffer stress much more than dogs. They suffer extreme “separation anxiety” (if they are bonded with a human) every time the human leaves the home. Listening to the plaintive cry of a pet capybara (who I was pet sitting) every time his “owner” left home was heartbreaking, and the experience will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Protect Your Capybaras and Guinea Pigs from Power Cords and Electric Cables

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

Capybara Health Warning: It Will Be Potentially Dangerous To Let Your Capybara Swim in a Chlorinated Swimming Pool Designed and Intended for Human Use. One capybara died, due to the chlorine in his pool, because his owner, who knew about my blogs, didn’t bother to do any research.

Capybaras Beware of Toxic Plants, Chemicals and Poisonous Animals Like Scorpions and Snakes. Humans Remove These from Your Land, Garden and Yard.

Critical Care for Capybaras. Capybara Health Care. This Could Save the Life of Your Capybara.

I have written many other blogs which are useful for anyone thinking of keeping a capybara as a pet, at my blog site “Capybara World” on WordPress:

https://capybaraworld.wordpress.com/

The Lifestyle a Pet Capybara Expects 寵物水豚的生活方式 ペットカピバラのライフスタイル

Written by A Couple Who Have Lived With 2 Pet Capybaras for 8 Years

By Marvin Reeder and Elizabeth Ojeda Reeder

Romeo Elizabeth's Room Marvin 21 May 2020

Romeo and Tuff’n relaxing

It has been my observation that Capybaras will rest facing in different directions. They do this in order to be alerted to the first sight of room service delivering their breakfast, or any treats that may be arriving.

Capybaras are much more intelligent than most people realise. The ability to conceptualise is considered a sign of high intelligence. Many people cannot conceptualise, but Tuff’n can! Watch him as he solves his problem

Romeo and Tuff'n in bed with Marvin – Marvin's photo

Romeo and Tuff’n sleep in the family bed with Marvin and Elizabeth every night. They would feel rejected if they were forced to sleep separately from the family

Capybara are very sensitive animals and can be highly adaptable to many different environments. They are also highly intelligent and prefer the comforts of climate control, noise deadening windows, soft cushions to rest on, a comfortable warm bed with a heated blanket and other luxurious and plush surroundings.

Romeo in front of his new LIMO 28 February 2016

Romeo waits for his chauffeur to arrive. Please note the personalised number plate:ROUS. Rodents of Unusual Size for anyone who doesn’t know!

Among the things capybaras need and expect: permanent access to a warm bath and swimming pool, their drinking water to be heated slightly, a full-time masseur, grass and mud.

Romeo and Tuff’n have their own personal vet. She comes to their home, so that they don’t have to do go through the terrifying experience of visiting a public animal hospital. If they require an operation she can anaesthetise them, safely, on the sofa. Romeo is terrified of any building which reminds him of the animal hospital. Taking a capybara to the vet is not only very stressful for the capybara, but can also present many logistical problems. Elizabeth’s sister is a vet and she has created a permanently available prescription for antibiotics in case Romeo or Tuff’n develop an infection, so that they do not have to wait even an extra hour for treatment. Many pet capybaras die because their owners put off seeking treatment due to the cost of visiting a vet who specialises in exotic animals.

Interestingly, not all capybaras require a limousine. Romeo likes to monitor the chauffeur, standing with his front legs on the console, which has been specially padded and carpeted, and whispering instructions into the chauffeur’s ear from time to time, or nibbling his ear. In a limousine Romeo is prevented from having any direct access to the chauffeur by a glass partition. Capybaras may prefer a former racing driver to be their chauffeur; someone who can react quickly to avoid danger.

Romeo Tuff'n Kitchen

Tuff’n, Romeo and Shortrib waiting hopefully in the kitchen.  Every time Romeo and Tuff’n hear sounds emanating from the kitchen, they appear, noses pointing hopefully in the direction of the food

Tuff’n has watched the humans relaxing on li–lo’s in the pool and wants the same experience. He drags his cushion to the side of the pool, jumps in the pool, pulls the cushion in, and relaxes floating:

 Capybaras are exceptionally sensitive emotionally. More so than most humans. They are very aware of the moods of the people around them and can be easily upset. As wild animals their reactions may be instinctive, having evolved over millions of years to protect them from dangers. As a human you may have no idea what you have done to upset them, and why they have suddenly attacked you, with their very sharp teeth.

Capybara teeth are so sharp that the Amerindians of South America used the teeth as a spear point.

Like all rodents, capybaras hate to be controlled. In this, they are the complete opposite of dogs and horses. If you try to control a capybara you will destroy the relationship and the capybara’s trust.

Romeo sleeping with Liz July 2020

Romeo sleeping with Elizabeth on his special bed which includes a massage facility and a choice of positions and a choice of comfort levels

I have been observing and photographing this pair of wild capybara in their unnatural environment for about eight years. It has been my observation that they can be highly manipulative and cunning animals, able to control the minds of others.

I believe that if there were a greater number of capybaras in the world, in time they would become the dominant species and all humans would be subservient to them.

Marvin’s verdict: Please don’t keep a capybara as a pet:  the capybara will suffer.

Photos by Marvin Reeder and Elizabeth Ojeda Reeder

在動物園與圈養環境中飼育水豚時該注意的的飼養條件、展場圍欄的設計與動物福利

設計水豚的展場圍欄時,最應該注意的是要提供一個環境讓水豚們可以展現在自然棲地中原有的行為。其中兩個最重要的條件是必須有一個大的水池,以及可以讓牠們自由吃草的環境。

假設要容納一家族約 15 隻水豚,展場圍欄的圈地大小至少要一英畝或半公頃(約 5000 平方公尺),並依照水豚家族的成員多寡來做調整。圈地環境必須要做得像野生水豚的自然環境。

NWN Pond Play

水豚是半水棲的動物,牠們喜歡在水裡活動和玩耍,因此一定要設置一個大水池。並且,水豚是草食性動物,牠們以青草為主食,所以務必要讓水豚們隨時可以自由地吃草。

水豚比人們知道的要聰明得多。看塔夫解決他的問題 水豚比人們知道的要聰明得多。看塔夫解決他的問題。

此外,照顧水豚的飼育員必須有興趣並且願意瞭解水豚的自然行為以提供牠們應該享有的動物福利。他們必須花些時間觀察水豚,如此才能判別水豚行為舉止背後的含意,並了解每隻水豚在群體中的關係,這些訊息能幫助飼育員管理水豚並提供最好的照顧,避免水豚互相爭鬥。飼育員應該要定期觀察水豚的狀態、體型大小/體重以及毛髮的狀態等,如此一來,當水豚的健康出了狀況時,就能及早發現,及早治療。

每隻水豚都應該有自己的進食所來確保各個都有足夠的食物可吃。如果群體中的水豚必須爭奪食物,這將會導致攻擊性的行為產生。一旦這種行為在家族成員中成型,將很難徹底根絕。基於這個理由,飼主應該要盡最大的努力讓水豚不需要競爭食物便可以自在的進食。

被圈養的水豚家族中,雌性水豚會形成階級組織,在這個過程中會導致雌水豚產生攻擊行為。雄性水豚間有明顯的階級區分,因此牠們會對其他雄性水豚有強烈的攻擊性,即使是自己的後代也不例外。雖然可以透過絕育的方式來控制雄性水豚的攻擊行為,但並不能保證百分百成功。在沒有細心管理的情況下,攻擊行為可能會導致嚴重的傷害。

當有水豚受到嚴重傷害時,牠們應該被隔離到其他的圍欄中進行療養。一旦這種狀況發生,受傷的水豚幾乎不可能再重新融入原本的家族。因為受傷的水豚很有可能受到在階級組織中地位僅次於牠的其他水豚攻擊。

改善圈養環境:包括環境與感知上的強化,強化的目的是確保被圈養的動物能健康快樂地生活。豐富並增進圈地的環境條件能讓居住在其中的水豚擁有選擇性,過著有樂趣的生活並充滿活力,並且能展現牠們自然的習性。

圈地的自然環境改善包括:

NWN Romeo Swimming

建造一個大水池。水豚必須能自由進出水池。水池的大小至少為 4 公尺 x 8 公尺,並根據水豚家族的成員多寡做調整。原則上水池的深度應該要有 1.3 公尺,但是某些地方應該為 0.3 或 0.6 公尺的淺灘,讓水豚可以浸泡在池水中休息。天氣炎熱的時候,水豚會進入池水中調節體溫,保持身體清涼。遇到危險的時候,牠們也會躲到水中避難。被圈養的水豚可能會因為受到追逐而需要進到水中躲避攻擊。此外,當水豚在受傷的狀態下,也許是牙齒的根部斷裂了(水豚具有高冠齒,能一直持續生長。破損的牙齒只要兩個多星期就能長回來),此時居於弱勢的水豚會躲到水中尋求保護。

遮蔽處:圈地中必須有可以躲避日曬雨淋的遮蔽處,可以是林蔭或灌木叢,也可以是人造的建築物。

處於寒冷氣候的圈地:適合水豚生活的氣候環境溫度至少要在攝氏 22 度以上。如果所在地的冬天氣候寒冷,圈地中必須設置具有加熱器的遮蔽處,避免水豚受寒或凍傷。

草地:吃草是水豚不可或缺的日常活動。經過 2500 萬年的演化,水豚的消化系統適應了以青草為主的食物,這樣的食物熱量低並且提供豐富的纖維素。在南美洲的自然棲地中,水豚以青草、水生植物、鼠尾草屬植物為食,也會咀嚼灌木或樹木的樹皮。為了維持牙齒的健康狀態,水豚必須咀嚼粗糙的樹皮來控制牙齒的生長。在被圈養的水豚之中,曾有數起死亡案例是因為以質地柔軟的食物為主而無法磨牙而導致。被圈養的動物必須要能展現自然習性才能健康成長,而吃草是水豚最重要的其中一項習性。水豚並沒有演化出一日兩餐的習性,牠們必須要能肚子餓了就可以自己去尋覓青草或其他適合的食物來吃。

Juanita eating grass

飲食:可以提供適當的飼料來作為補充。如果圈地中青草的份量不足以提供水豚的每日所需,則可以用其他綠色的葉類,如甘藍葉、萵苣等可食的蔬菜葉補充。糖分含量高的蔬果不適合作為水豚的食物,此外也不應該餵食紅蘿蔔,因為紅蘿蔔含有豐富的維生素 A,會導致水豚的肝臟受損。在日本,許多幼年夭折的水豚正是由於肝臟受損。基於這些理由,我們也不應該餵食水果,因為水果的糖分太高了。但是可以餵食一些合適的枝葉,例如野生無花果樹的枝葉。水豚喜歡啃樹皮因為樹皮含有豐富的營養,而且啃樹皮對水豚的牙齒好處多多。Bio 3 或 Bene-Bac 之類的益生菌可以緩和輕微的腹瀉。

適當的植被:包括枝葉或棕櫚葉,或是柔軟的樹葉,當水豚休息或睡覺時可以作為鋪墊。水豚喜歡在樹枝或棕櫚葉等植物上摩擦肛門和鼻子上的氣味腺來標示領地。如之前所述,水豚需要咀嚼一些質地粗糙的植物,像是樹枝或棕櫚葉來維持牙齒的健康。

NWN scent marking capybara straddling plant

最重要的是,被圈養的動物必須能展現自然的習性。參觀的民眾所看到的應該是動物們在自然棲地中原本的生態。

被圈養的動物可能會因為單調的生活而產生壓力。為了避免單調乏味與壓力,圈地應該提供感知與娛樂活動來刺激水豚的心智,鼓勵水豚多活動以維持身體健康。

改善環境的活動包括以上所述提供適當的植被,另外也可以透過人工的方式刻意塑造自然環境。例如,可以透過充滿樂趣的方式來提供食物,像是將飼料散落在四處,或是隱藏在不同的角落讓水豚尋找覓食。也可以將竹子懸掛在圈地四周的樹枝上刺激水豚尋覓。

上述的活動也能豐富水豚的感知,因為水豚能從活動中學習解決問題以獲得食物獎勵。

豐富感官與社交:水豚是高度社交與群居的物種,不能單獨飼養在家中或圍欄裡。被單獨飼養的水豚會產生極大的壓力,導致行為與性格轉變。我們可以透過分析水豚體內的壓力荷爾蒙如皮脂醇的含量來判別壓力等級。極度的壓力會導致腦部結構改變並造成水豚提早夭折。

被飼養的水豚必須和人類有良好正向的互動才能活得健康快樂。

如果動物園的訪客能進入水豚的圍欄,圍欄當中必須設置一個訪客不能進入的區域。這樣的設計讓水豚能選擇是否想待在人類訪客的身邊。如果環境中沒有選擇,水豚可能會因此產生壓力。

園方應該注意訪客的行為,確保他們沒有戲弄或驚嚇水豚的舉動。

NWN Muddy Donguri

泥巴:水豚喜歡在泥巴裡打滾。這個行為對牠們的皮膚有好處,能幫助去除蟎蟲與蝨子。泥巴能帶給水豚樂趣與放鬆。圈地中的水豚應該保有滾泥巴的這個自然行為。

好的動物園會將動物福利放在第一位。我們可以採取以動物行為為出發點而設計的飼育方法來管理園中的動物,藉此提供完善的動物福利。這意味著不將焦點放在提供什麼給動物,而是從觀察動物的行為中來了解牠們的需求。動物所展現出的一切行為都有含意,理解這些行為能幫助我們知道這時動物需要的是什麼。

採取以動物行為為基礎的飼育方法能提供動物福利的所有要素,像是健康的身體、良好的心理狀態,以及展現自然的習性。除了設計並豐富展場環境,我們也必須確保人類與動物有良好的互動。展場環境與飼養方式必須提供選擇性,讓動物們能對自己的生命、周遭環境與日常活動保留一些控制權,彷彿牠們就生活在野外的棲地一樣。

要提供園內動物良好的動物福利,另一個不可或缺的要素就是人類與動物之間正向的互動。園內的動物依賴我們提供所有日常所需:食物、遮蔽處、環境改善、交配機會與陪伴照顧。如果我們與動物互動的方式是不理不睬、否定消極、無法預測或帶有攻擊性,久而久之將會對動物帶來巨大的精神壓力。

我們必須時時留意自己的行為,了解這些舉止會對動物帶來怎樣的影響。

基本的動物福利協定包含五大自由:

免於飢渴的自由:隨時都能獲得新鮮的飲水與食物以維持健康活力。

免於不適的自由:提供動物適當的環境,包括庇護所與舒適的休息區。

免於疼痛、傷害或疾病的自由:提供及時的診斷與治療。

展現正常行為的自由:提供足夠的空間、適當的設施與同種類動物的陪伴。

免於害怕與痛苦的自由:確保動物得到良好的生活條件與對待,避免遭受精神上的痛苦。

五大領域:1965 年,為了改善農場動物(像是應用於農業的所有動物)的處境,於是才發展出「五大自由」。「五大自由」僅強調人類的基本義務,並沒有進一步確保被圈養與動物園中飼養的動物所該擁有的福利。我們需要提供這些動物愉快與正向的生活。為了讓這個面向更完善,紐西蘭的動物福利科學家大衛·梅勒(David Mellor)提出「五大領域」。「五大領域」的目標是要確保我們所飼養的動物擁有健全的身體與心理狀態,這正是動物福利的根基與確保被圈養動物健康快樂不可或缺的基本條件。

2009 年,動物學家與動物福利科學家維琪·梅爾菲(Vicky A. Melfi)為動物園動物福利的知識與方法定出三個主要的分歧點,這裡列舉出與水豚飼育有關的其中兩點:

第一:我們傾向於將焦點放在福利不好的指標上,並認為沒有這些指標就等同於福利良好。然而,沒有不好的福利不一定表示提供良好的福利。

第二:我們應該從該物種的需求而非從人類的觀點來看待飼養動物的處所與飼養方式。

傳統上,動物園是依照人類對於乾淨居住環境的標準來建造出符合衛生條件的展場,但是這樣的環境並不符合動物的天然習性,也不能滿足牠們的心理需求。

wn-branfere-july-2012-murmel-tier

這是水豚的理想圍欄:很多草和一個大池塘

如今,好的動物園也能正視動物與人類先天習性上的不同,並依照動物的行為需求來重新打造牠們的住所。要先了解動物的行為才能提供適當的住所與飼養方式,因為這些行為是百萬年來演化的結果,其中經歷了一層又一層的優勝劣敗,這才演化出最適合該物種的生存方式。

Translated by Shibachi

What Happened to Aoba Capybara? アオバカピバラ何が起こったの?

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.

This is a continuation of my blog “How to Have the Best Relationship with Animals – Do Not Try to Control Them”

The events of this summer set me thinking about my own approach to animals and the negative effect on some animal species when people try to control and manipulate them emotionally.

Every behaviour an animal exhibits is meaningful; this is how animals communicate with humans, but not everyone understands or is sensitive to animals’ behaviour.

Shortly after our arrival this year something very bad happened to one of the capybaras, Aoba. What happened remains a mystery but Aoba was found in a distressed state when the keepers arrived on the morning of June 28, which happened to be Aoba’s fourth birthday. Aoba spent the day at the far corner of the capybara enclosure next to the fence separating her from Kona, the breeding male. She looked very sad and stressed. Aoba chose a location where it would be difficult for the keepers to get to her. At the end of the day the keeper on duty went to Aoba and tried to pet her. There was no reaction from Aoba and as soon as the keeper left Aoba went into the pond and disappeared under the wooden deck.

Missing photo:  Aoba spent the day resting

When we arrived the next morning Aoba was still hiding under the deck. In fact we humans did not even know if Aoba was still alive; the capybaras knew of course. The chief capybara keeper put on her waders and tried to get Aoba to come out but there was no reaction. Shortly after this, Aoba’s mother, Momiji, swam over to the deck and called frantically. Momiji looked very worried. About ten minutes later Aoba appeared. Momiji’s behaviour was very interesting. Was she reacting to the keeper’s failed attempt to persuade Aoba to come out, and getting Aoba to do what the keeper had been trying to achieve? As a worried mother was she calling her offspring so that she could check on Aoba’s condition? If the chief capybara keeper had done nothing would Momiji still have called Aoba that morning?

NWN Injured Aoba 02 Jul 2018 002 - Copy

Aoba spent the day of her birthday, following her injury, as far away from people, especially the keepers, as she could. You can see by the expression on her face how depressed she is.

If nothing else Momiji’s behaviour and Aoba’s response shows the strong family bond between mother and daughter capybara. As I have written elsewhere, Momiji is an exceptional mother and she was an exceptionally supportive daughter to her own mother, Donguri, staying beside Donguri during the last month of Donguri’s life as Donguri grew weaker and weaker.

Missing photo

Every time the chief capybara keeper, still in her waders, tried to approach Aoba, Aoba swam away. The chief capybara keeper seemed completely insensitive to what Aoba’s behaviour was telling her. The tone of her voice was one of admonishment; the authority figure who expected to be obeyed. She seemed to have no sense of Aoba’s fragile state or that she was dealing with an injured, probably frightened, animal. The chief capybara keeper wanted to control Aoba rather than connect with Aoba and reassure her. Her complete lack of sensitivity and lack of understanding of the situation and the appropriate behaviour she should be using surprised and disappointed me. I found this very disheartening in a keeper responsible for these sensitive and emotional animals.

Aoba had not eaten for almost two days and this worried me. Capybaras can lose weight very quickly if they are not eating. Marc and I went to the edge of the pond and called Aoba, holding out a piece of pumpkin left over from the morning feed. After a while Aoba came over to us and ate the pumpkin. However, every time the chief capybara keeper tried to approach her Aoba looked nervous and prepared to swim away. I had to tell the chief capybara keeper to go away as I felt it was very important for Aoba to eat and I didn’t want her to be frightened away while we were feeding her. After a while Aoba swam away and hid under the deck again.

Missing photo

Later in the afternoon Aoba swam out from the deck so we called her and asked the keeper on duty to give her some food. He refused! He is the most junior keeper and I assume he was under instructions from the chief capybara keeper that Aoba had to come out of the pond if she wanted to be fed! I thought it was much more important at this stage for Aoba to eat something so we bought her some bamboo and gave her some pellets to eat while she was still in the pond.

After she had eaten Aoba went to sleep in the pond beside us. Capybaras often sleep in the pond, especially when it is very hot. In Aoba’s case, she looked very tired as if she had not slept much during the night following her traumatic experience. She was not ready to leave the pond and our presence beside her gave her security while she slept in the water.

Just before we left the capybara enclosure in late afternoon the evening feed was distributed and Aoba came out of the pond. We sat beside her while she ate to give her some reassurance and protection. Momiji came over as well. It took Aoba a week to fully recover.

This is a video we made of Aoba on the day of her distressing experience and the following day. Aoba was found in the Onsen area which is beside a moss covered, rocky hill about 10 feet high (3 1/2 metres in height). On the first day, her birthday 28 June 2018, you can see her in the far corner of the enclosure next to Kona’s pen. Late that afternoon the keeper tries to pet her. Shortly after the keeper leaves Aoba gingerly goes to the edge of the pond. She acts as if she is not confident about jumping in here, perhaps she is in pain, and moves to another area beside the pond where she feels more confident to jump into the pond. Aoba swims into hiding under the deck. The next day she is still hiding under the deck and you can see and hear Momiji frantically calling and looking very worried. If you listen closely I think you can hear a weak response from Aoba. Hinase, leader of the herd, also looks worried and cries twice (not in the video). Then you can see Aoba swimming away when the keeper tries to approach her. At the end of the video you can see Aoba eating vegetables at the evening feed, still looking rather dazed. Zabon’s female baby tries to suckle from Aoba’s nipple! Momiji is beside Aoba, eating some pumpkin.

There is a moss covered, rocky hill about 10 feet high, 3 1/2 metres, behind the Onsen. Aoba was found in a distressed state near the Onsen. Almost 2 years ago I saw Keiko and Sumire, Hinase’s daughters, at the top of this rocky hill stretching forward trying to eat some leaves. Sumire very nearly lost her balance and only just managed not to fall. I have a video of Keiko not quite losing her balance as she stretches forward, a little nervously, to try and reach some leaves. Shortly before this Gin injured her feet and legs very badly. She could barely walk and was attacked by several capybaras who wanted her place in the hierarchy. Eventually, she was attacked so badly she had to be taken out of the herd. I have always felt it was possible that her injuries were caused by falling as she stretched forward at the top of this rocky hill to eat some leaves and lost her balance. I wonder if Aoba also lost her balance trying to eat leaves at the top of this rocky hill. The branches have now been cut right back so there is no temptation for the hungry capybaras.

NWN Injured Aoba 01 Jul 2018 014

Having spent almost 24 hours in the pond hiding under the boardwalk, Aoba finally came out when her mother, Momiji called. She then spent the day beside the entry gate to the capybara enclosure as if she wanted to escape and needed to be close to the exit.

Two additional things disappointed me about all this: it was thought that Aoba might have been attacked by one of the other capybaras. Although there were no signs of injury it is possible she might have hurt herself trying to escape. The capybaras who the keepers suggested might have attacked Aoba were all capybaras with whom she is very friendly. None of the keepers mentioned, Maple, who is the only capybara known to attack Aoba, as a knowledgeable friend and I agreed. The other thing that bothered me was that one of the keepers said Aoba was fine two days after this mysterious incident. This was not true. On the day when the keeper said Aoba was fine, Aoba lay by the entrance gate looking as if she would like to escape. Then she sat down by the gate and did not move despite the hot summer sun and the hot concrete she was lying on. Normally she would have moved under the bushes nearby where the soft earth was much more comfortable, cool and shady. Later that afternoon Aoba walked the short distance to the pond and looked as if she wanted to jump in but something was preventing her so she lay down again. Throughout all this Aoba seemed more nervous of the keepers than any other capybara.

NWN Injured Aoba 30 Jun 2018 080

Aoba looks in pain. She remained beside the gate leading out of the capybara enclosure

Capybaras are exceptionally sensitive and emotionally sophisticated. They know when someone is trying to control them and this makes them deeply suspicious.

Missing photo:  Brother Donut sat near Aoba on the first day looking very sad and worried 

Some of capybaras outstanding sensitivity to people’s emotions may be due to their superior sense of smell. Humans emit chemicals in response to different emotional states and these chemicals emit an odour which many animals can smell and react to. It has been scientifically tested and proven that animals can smell “fear”. So if you are afraid in the presence of an animal, for example a ferocious looking dog, that dog will smell your fear and may react accordingly. I wonder, therefore, whether people who compulsively try to control animals emit an odour which alerts and warns the animal/capybara that this person is not acting in the animal’s best interest and is not to be trusted.

I have absolutely no doubt that the best relationship a person can have with an animal is based on mutual trust and the person’s ability to understand life from the animal’s perspective. There are far more productive and rewarding ways of achieving a desired behaviour in an animal then by using force or by attempting to control.

请大家能帮忙代我寻找Choco吗? Choco现正住在中国某所动物园,牠是很容易被识别的。

请大家能帮忙代我寻找Choco吗? Choco现正住在中国某所动物园,牠是很容易被识别的。 Choco有一只分裂的脚趾(见图); 位于牠的左前腿,近左边的第二个脚趾便是分裂的。这只脚趾跟正常的脚趾看起来是较为宽阔的。您在附图便可以看到。

Choco是一只非常特别的水豚,牠非常聪明并且具有创意。

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这是Choco capybara:

 

WN Choco on our bag 09 December 2015 154

Hierarchy in Japanese Society: Its Corrosive Effect and The Often Childish and Petulant Behaviour of Japanese Management 日本社会における階層構造:その腐食作用日本人経営者は、しばしばひどく振舞われた子供のように

Japanese society is very hierarchical. People in authority do not expect anyone to offer advice or challenge their decisions. Japanese people, on the whole, do not complain. This has led to a number of scandals.

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My dealings with the management of one company over six years have given me personal experience of, and insight into, this dysfunctional management style. Put simply, I would describe the management of many Japanese companies as being unsophisticated. Because Japanese people tend not to complain, people in authority believe they can act with impunity, even if they are inefficient. The Japanese economy has been underperforming for several decades because of this inefficiency. The lack of accountability and lack of worldliness (in part due to the lack of English language skills) result in managements who often have a fear of losing control, fear of the unknown, a lack of initiative and a lack of imagination, which prevents them from adopting a progressive and successful management style.

Xenophobia linked to the lack of English language skills both also play their part.

One major disadvantage of the way hierarchy works in Japan is the lack of trust in the government. This has very serious consequences for Japan’s response to the pandemic as only 30% of the public will normally take a vaccine. This is the lowest uptake of vaccines in the world, and is down to the peoples’ lack of trust in the government.

Japan is also a country with a surprising belief in conspiracy theories. Many Japanese believe that all medicines have been fabricated to make money for the pharmaceutical companies and have no efficacy whatsoever!

One of the most high-profile scandals was that involving the Olympus Camera Company.

The company CEO was a British man who had worked for Olympus for his entire career. He discovered that some of the senior managers had been siphoning off funds and investing this money in highly dubious Caribbean companies which appeared to be completely unprofitable. This British CEO alerted the board members expecting that they would be so pleased that he had uncovered this financial scandal. However, the reaction was quite the opposite. He was met with opprobrium and asked to resign. At his final board meeting with the company he was served stale sandwiches, while the rest of the board members were served delicious sushi! This has been made into a movie entitled “Samurai and Idiots: The Olympus Affair”, which was released in Japan on May 19, this year having already been released in Europe in 2015.

A friend of mine who worked for Moody’s, the ratings agency, in Tokyo experienced the following: when Moody’s downgraded the rating of a Japanese company, this Japanese company asked him to come to their headquarters. He was kept waiting for over an hour in a small, dingy room where the cleaners took their break. He recounts being surrounded by middle-aged ladies knitting!

No Western company would behave in this childish and petulant way to punish somebody who had acted in an exemplary fashion but whose behaviour upset them.

Managers in the West are taught “damage recovery” or “service recovery”. If you were doing a degree in Business Management or Business Studies you would be taught the importance of pacifying an upset or irate customer by going on a charm offensive; in other words a good manager would seek to make that person happy again.

Other recent scandals involve Toshiba and Fukushima.

A British neurosurgeon I met commented that when he attended a conference in Japan he met quite a few doctors who had trained as neurosurgeons but were not practising neurosurgery because of the hierarchy system. Their talents and long training were therefore lost to potential patients.

I have met several young Japanese men who wish they could live abroad because they see no future with the weight of the hierarchical system preventing their progress.

I have several Japanese friends who have chosen to educate their children in England to avoid the Japanese education system which requires a great deal of hard work, mostly rote learning, but often offers little opportunity for career advancement after graduation. School days are much longer than in Britain and school holidays, already short, were recently reduced to just a few weeks in summer. One of these friends is the son of a diplomat and spent part of his childhood overseas. He wanted his children to enjoy the freedom and fun that he had experienced as a child abroad.

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The education system with its emphasis on rote learning is often criticised for not teaching Japanese people how to think. One of the leading Tokyo University’s has two advertisements at Haneda airport, one in English and one in Japanese, emphasising that by studying at this university you will be trained to think!

I met a Scottish man who decided to leave his job in Japan because he did not want his children to be educated in the Japanese system where they would work very hard and probably end up in a very unfulfilling, mundane job.

Women are often discriminated against and few women feel they have the confidence to challenge decisions taken by men. I believe Japan has one of the worst records for promoting women in jobs and government. A recent scandal involved Tokyo Medical College where it was discovered that women candidates were routinely having their test results downgraded in order to ensure that more male candidates were accepted to study at the college!

And then there is the xenophobia. I have encountered more kindness from Japanese people than I would expect in most other countries but I have also encountered more xenophobia. Other foreigners I have spoken to have experienced exactly the same, on the one hand great kindness from some people but also high levels of xenophobia from others. I recently met two exceptionally polite and well mannered Canadian university students who had been denied access to several restaurants in downtown Nagasaki because they were foreigners. These two young men were neatly dressed, one was studying medicine, the other philosophy.

Another friend, an American who speaks fluent Japanese, recounts going out for a walk one evening in Kumamoto at about 10 PM. As he passed a young Japanese couple he heard the male say “Hairy foreigner! Scary!”. This friend was teaching English and to my surprise said that some students thought it was “cool” not to study or try and learn English. Up to now I had always assumed the lack of English was due to the difficulty of learning English and that every young person would want to speak English if they could.

When Japanese companies do make mistakes my impression is that, rather than owning up to their mistakes and making changes for the better, they carry on as before in the belief that they enjoy impunity whatever their actions.

My own experience, after I highlighted the issues surrounding the most popular capybara being sent to China, are in line with what I would call the typical, unworldly, unsophisticated and often counter-productive management style prevailing in probably too many Japanese companies. As I have said, the Japanese economy has been underperforming for several decades and I can now see why. Companies sometimes take decisions based on nepotism at the expense of the company’s success and revenue as a whole.

The director of the zoo had always been very friendly and always came to say hello within a week or two of our arrival back at the zoo each year. After I complained about the most popular capybara being sent away to China, when we returned this year he did not come to see us at all during the 10 weeks of our visit. When I highlighted some Animal Welfare issues (bearing in mind that Animal Welfare Science is acknowledged to be NOT WELL UNDERSTOOD in Japan, and therefore my knowledge on this subject, having studied Animal Welfare Science, would naturally be greater than many/most Japanese zoos) the person sent as emissary was someone who speaks no English! I do speak some Japanese but not enough for a serious conversation on animal related topics. Following my post on Facebook expressing concern about feeding routines, for one day the capybaras had a feast, the second day they got a much smaller treat and after that the feeding routine went back to normal!.

The zoo was upset because I described my observations, which included some animal welfare issues, on Facebook but I had no channel of communication in English with them. In the past the director of the zoo, the only management person who speaks any English, had said I should contact him if I had any observations in the capybara enclosure, however his behaviour this year indicated he had no wish for me to communicate with him. Some years there has been a capybara keeper who is prepared to listen to my Japanese and use the Internet to translate if necessary, and for two separate years there have been capybara keepers who speak English. This year none of the capybara keepers spoke any English, and the chief capybara keeper was the type of rather xenophobic Japanese person who makes no attempt to listen to a foreigner who doesn’t speak fluent Japanese, which is rude, making it impossible for me to discuss my observations. Last year one of the capybara keepers spoke some English and was very friendly to foreign visitors. He was actually a breath of fresh air in the capybara enclosure and his presence benefited both the capybaras and the Japanese visitors as well as foreigners. Because of his excellent social skills he was poached by the assistant director of the zoo, who is a former insect keeper with a continuing interest in insects and preserving endangered Japanese insect species, to become an insect keeper. The capybaras are the most popular animals at the zoo so from a business perspective it would make more sense for this keeper to have remained a capybara keeper. Had he remained a capybara keeper I would have been able to discuss the animal welfare issues with him rather than post them on Facebook. As this keeper completed his training very recently he has some knowledge of animal welfare issues (I was told that Animal Welfare Science has only recently been included in the zoo keeper course in Japan) and is also one of the few keepers who took the job because he likes animals and understands them.

I should perhaps explain that I have spent the past six years intensively studying and observing capybara behaviour in close contact with capybaras. I have read all the research papers pertaining to capybaras and some mammolagists and ethologists consider that I know more about capybaras than anyone. I do not wish to sound boastful but simply to explain that I have some information about capybaras which the capybara keepers definitely do not. Indeed, some of the capybara keepers cannot even recognise all the capybaras in their care! I also spend much more time observing the behaviour of the capybaras, and their relationships, than any of the keepers with one exception (a former capybara keeper from the year 2014).

I believe Japan suffers greatly from the lack of spoken English which is on a scale far greater than most other countries including Third World countries. This means that management is out of touch with the behaviour of managements in other countries and the lack of English also feeds into the xenophobia that often results in managements which fear losing control, lack imagination, and often have a myopic focus on making money at the expense of innovation and long-term success.

Japanese people feel they do not have a voice and rarely complain. A friend was in tears talking about Choco but she would never complain to the zoo about him being sent to China.

An example of a bad management decision was the decision of a zoo to get rid of their most entertaining and very popular capybara. Not only was this capybara exceptionally clever and entertaining and many people’s favourite capybara, but he was also not aggressive. His brother was the aggressive one. Because this brother kept attacking him, the two brothers had to be separated. When the decision to send one of them away was taken any well-informed management would have chosen to send the more aggressive brother away. I love him dearly but he may well fight with the younger, neutered males in the herd in the future which would result in one of them having to be taken out of the herd and sent away. If the zoo had kept their most popular and entertaining capybara, peace would have reigned in the capybara community at least as far as this capybara was concerned. This very popular capybara was also amazingly tolerant of bad behaviour by visitors whereas the more aggressive brother is a much more nervous capybara. He was a capybara in a million.  He was a gift to the zoo and they threw him away!

A friend of mine read an article about a major Japanese company which hired a British manager to fire people, so that no Japanese manager would be tarnished by doing this unpleasant job. Apparently the Japanese management wanted to be able to claim they would never have done this, so none of the laid off workers would be angry with them.

Hopefully in the future things will change. Bright young entrepreneurs who set up their own companies are already making a difference.

Some Japanese mothers try to teach their children “courage”. They do this by creating an unpleasant experience. For example, a friend of mine’s Japanese mother locked her out of the house in pouring rain in winter, on their return home from a shopping trip. The door had glass panes and the mother looked at her daughter through the glass as the daughter cried, completely confused and upset by the experience which could hardly be described as the behaviour of a loving mother.

We often see children in the capybara enclosure who are terrified of the capybaras. As they cry and scream in fear their parents watch them, laughing at them! Not all Japanese parents behave like this and some are very solicitous of their child’s fear and try to comfort them.

There can be some unpleasant consequences emanating from aspects of Japanese culture, including the understanding that life is unpredictable, which translates into behaviours which foreigners find very strange. For example, on two occasions at Nagasaki Bio Park, we were given nasty, old, brown, dried out pieces of bamboo to feed to the capybaras, when we paid for bamboo for the capybaras. There were plenty of fresh, green, luscious branches of bamboo in the container. This behaviour could be interpreted in two ways: “life is unpredictable” so we are not giving you what you expect. OR: Japan’s widespread xenophobia manifest (i.e. giving foreigners undesirable pieces of bamboo), but I suspect the former is the correct reason, since most of the time we got decent pieces of bamboo, and one chief capybara keeper was always very generous to us.