Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Runaway rodent can grow to 100 pounds



By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

FLORENCE - A member of the world's largest species of rodent is on the loose and could be in a garden or pond near you.

[img]
Missing: 7 week old female capybara. Answers to the name 'Speak'. Will most likely be in or near water. Weighs approximately 13-15 lbs, about the size of a large groundhog. Has a metal tag on her left ear with the number 440 on it.
(Photo provided)
Susan and Travis Fessler's capybara - named Speak - escaped from their Raintree Road home Aug. 15, a day after they got her from an Arkansas farm.

The aquatic, South American animal resembles a guinea pig, but can grow to more than 100 pounds before its second birthday.

Right now she's 7 weeks old, 15 pounds, very quick and elusive. Susan Fessler is determined to find her.

"If she sees me, she'll probably run, but I'll catch her," said Susan, a Boone County animal control officer.

The Fesslers bought Speak as a pet to train and use in Travis' "Pickled Brothers Sideshow" act. But Speak pried through her kennel wires in the back yard and slipped through a hole in the fence.

The Fesslers spent a year researching the animal and four months securing county and state permits to keep her at their home.

Capybaras are nocturnal, vegetarian and can live in water. They're not considered harmful to people unless threatened.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has had capybaras for more than 25 years, and has three today.

"If they bite you, they can hurt you," said Don Kuenzer, curator of the zoo's rainforest.

Speak has a metal tag on her left ear with the number 440 on it. If you spot her, call the Fesslers at (859) 992-1763 or (859) 916-5401.

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E-mail williamcroyle@yahoo.com




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