Our capybara rescue in January was a success in all ways! The rescue, that is. How is she doing now? You would be correct to remind me that we rescued an elderly male, about 10 years old. Pandabara’s history is sketchy, but there is nothing masculine about this animal. Because capybara genitalia rests internally, there is nothing to see, nothing like a dog, for instance. Intact males do display telltale bulges visible from behind, but Panda has sleek, narrow nether regions.
Mostly, though, males have a morrillo: a prominent dark greasy gland on the bridge of their nose. Pandabara has a plain fuzzy brown nose, just like we would expect to see on a mature female.
One final point is her docile nature. Personalities differ, but a healthy mature male in a similar rescue situation would probably show some signs of territoriality, if not aggression toward humans. Panda is timid and not overtly friendly, but she hasn’t exhibited any dominance behavior that we tend to associate with males. Therefore, we have declared Pandabara to be female.
Panda came from a petting zoo, though we don’t think she had any direct contact with human visitors. The photos we saw showed her protected from the public in a portable chain-link pen. Here she is with her first visitor after being rescued. She was standoffish but not afraid. As a rescue animal, she will never be required to perform or interact with humans. She is fully retired.
She has grown fond of her new owner and comes running, mostly to check for treats, of course, but she is gentle and curious. She has gained weight, mostly around her face and shoulders. Her rear end hasn’t filled out much and she seems ever-so-slightly arthritic, but we also question the 10 years old. She’s old, maybe 8, but she is in very good condition and gets around just fine. Her appetite is healthy, and like all capybaras, she loves corn on the cob.
What about the new owner? Melanie Typaldos generously accepted Pandabara into her home, but so far we have only considered the adjustments made by Pandabara. Melanie has made many accommodations for Panda. Her capybara grounds are divided into two parcels, front and back. The front is also access for deliveries, and one of the most common problems for capybara owners is The Escape. The Escape usually occurs when a delivery person leaves a gate ajar. Capybaras are naturally curious and an open gate is a magnet for misbehavior. Panda was, therefore, put in the back yard.
Unfortunately, the only access to the house from the back is up some rather steep stairs. Poor old Panda slipped on the stairs one day, never to touch a stair again. Also, the pond and swimming pool are in the front and in the back she only had a wading pool. Capybaras do love their wading pools, but really? Melanie decided to move her to the front. But how to solve the gate problem?
The solution was simple. A fenced area was added on, with a gate, and enough space for a picnic table. Delivery people never need to open the interior gate. They can set everything on the picnic table, and Melanie can bring it in from there. Panda can still run over to check on everything, but she can’t get out. (This is a good setup for dog owners, too.)
So let’s take a guess: is this the fancy filtered swimming pool? Or is it the mucky little pond with the snapping turtle lurking in the depths? Are capybaras more dog-like than you expected? Sometimes, yes. One more chance: out of the pond, into the fancy doghouse? Or out of the pond and onto her pile of hay, otherwise known as her food?
All photos by Melanie Typaldos.