Fight to keep enormous pet rodent


A little girl captivated a local neighbourhood when she wept on television fearing her giant pet rodent would be taken away from her.

Jorgelina, 8, is often seen in the streets of her neighbourhood in northern Argentina sunbaking or playing on the footpath with pet Pancho the capybara.

He’s lived with the family in Santa Fe for five years but an anonymous complaint led police to the home, announcing they would remove the animal and take it to a farm.

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But Jorgelina’s dad Juan Caravallo wasn’t going to let that happen without a fight, instead rallying troops for support on Aire de Santa Fe which was broadcasting the unfolding situation.

“Everyone in the neighbourhood wants it here, everyone takes care of it,” he told the station.

“I understand that you can’t have it, but they gave it to me when it was little and I raised him. They are going to take it for what? For him to die on the farm?

“It is calm, it does not bother. He is like a dog.”

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A capybara is the largest rodent in the world and native to South America. They basically look like overgrown guinea pigs.

After seeing Mr Caravallo’s heartfelt plea, more than 100 people turned up at the family’s home, surrounding Pancho’s cage, making it impossible for police to seize him.

Mr Caravallo said Pancho had been given to him a long time ago and was already domesticated.

He said the whole neighbourhood gave Pancho food and patted him.

Manuel Jaramillo, executive director of the Fundación Vida Silvestre wildlife foundation, told the station capybaras could live with humans.

“But the important question is whether they should live with humans,” he said.

“In reality, they are wild species that should not be domesticated and subjected to (being a mascot).”

He said in this case it was probably appropriate for the animal to stay with the family.

“The capybara is completely domesticated but we must discourage the adoption of capybaras as it is not good for the animal and not for the people either,” he said.

Police had to settle for taking the family’s information.

Other people have been known to keep capybaras, the most famous one being JoeJoe who died in Las Vegas in 2018.



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