Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Capybara found

A CAPYBARA that escaped from Lord and Lady McAlpine’s estate at Fawley Hill has been recovered.

A CAPYBARA that escaped from Lord and Lady McAlpine’s estate at Fawley Hill has been recovered.

The animal, which is the largest type of rodent, was picked up at Temple Lock on Monday. Visitors and residents had reported sightings of the brown furry mammal at various spots along the Thames since it escaped two weeks ago.

Estate keeper Roy Twigger was called out six times but on each occasion the capybara, called Jack, evaded capture.

Mr Twigger said: “There have been dozens of phone calls from the public who have seen him from by Toad Hall to Temple Island.Capybaras love fruit so we would try to tempt him into a net using apples, grapes and bananas but because he had so much green grass, he didn’t go for it.

“Whenever we had been to catch him he would jump into the river.”

Mr Twigger then had a call from Temple Lock to say that Jack was nearby so he and his wife Helen went to investigate.

Resident lock-keeper Dave Hemingway brought out a dingy, which prevented Jack from diving into the water, causing him to run for the garden.

Mr Twigger said: “Dave had two guys helping get him off the bank and into a net in the garden, which my wife was holding at one end. We would have never done it without them.”

Jack, who is about 3ft in length and weighs around 100kg, needed three people to lift him into a wheelbarrow used to take him to a truck to be transported home. Mr Twigger said that in the animal’s short period of “freedom” he had picked up a following on social network sites.

He said: “Jack has been on Twitter and Facebook pages where people have posted photographs. I was terrified that he would get run over but thankfully he kept to the river and the footpath.”

Mark and Ann Scudamore, from Twickenham, called the Henley Standard when they came across the missing animal near Aston on May 25.

Mrs Scudamore said: “We were walking the Thames Path when we spotted the capybara. We were absolutely surprised and amazed to see it there. We didn’t approach it because we didn’t know what it would do.”

Her husband added: “We sent a photo to our eight-year-old grandson Henry Bunkall, who is mad keen on all sorts of animals, and he immediately identified it as a capybara and told us about its native habitat.”

L Cpl Nick Hilton and Pte Dean Millward, from RAF Benson, were near the RAF water sports centre at Danesfield on May 22 when they saw the animal.

L Cpl Hilton said: “We were paddling back when we spotted the capybara close to the river bank between Hambleden Lock and the sign for the Flower Pot inn.” John Flower and his wife Jane, from Twyford, spotted Jack downstream from Temple Island while out on their boat on May 19.

Mr Flower said: “My wife said she thought she saw a beaver and I said, ‘don’t be silly, you don’t get beavers in this country’ only to be embarrassed when we discovered it was a capybara, which are also not from this country. It was very timid and we did not get too close in case it was scared.”

Lady McAlpine thanked everyone for their concern, adding: “We are so grateful to everyone who has rung in to report sightings of him.”

In 2010, Jack found his way out with his mate Jill in 2010 but both were recaptured.

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