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Jack’s back (for good)
Published 06/01/14

A RUNAWAY capybara has been recaptured after months “on the run”.

Jack was caught in the grounds of Culham Court, near Aston, after being on the loose since June and is now back home with his owners, Sir and Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill, on the other side of the Thames.

The giant rodent had been spotted dozens of times along the river and Henley Standard readers sent in pictures of him apparently enjoying his taste of freedom by swimming, eating apples left out for him and sunbathing, his favourite pastime.

He had evaded capture until he was nabbed by Fawley Hill estate manager Roy Twigger with a fox trap baited with apples, bananas and grapes on the riverside cricket pitch at Culham Court, which is owned by Swiss financier Urs Schwarzenbach.

Jack, who is about 3ft long and weighs around 100kg, is now back in his fenced enclosure with his mate Jill and the tapirs they share it with. Lady McAlpine said: “Jack’s happy to be home again and settled down straight away although his ‘wife’ has been giving him the cold shoulder.

“She won’t go anywhere near him and is acting very aloof, though hopefully they will make up. Jack spends most of his time eating and sunbathing now — he is very good at that.

“We have made some changes to the fence so we do not think he can climb over it again, although we will have to wait and see.

“All joking aside, it is great to have him back. We are responsible for him and it was rather awful that he had gone astray. I’m sure some people will miss seeing him and reporting their sightings but we were genuinely concerned that someone was going to get upset about him.

“We belong to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums and they weren’t happy that one of their members had mislaid something as large as a capybara. I think poor Roy was also getting a bit fed up as he was always the one who had to go out after Jack.”

Mr Twigger said: “The people at Culham Court knew we were looking for Jack so they called me whenever they saw him. I kept going up there but he would disappear before I arrived so in the end I set up the trap.

“It’s a big relief to have caught him. He’s had six months’ holiday so it was about time he came back.” Jack first broke free towards the end of May and spent a fortnight on the loose. He was spotted several times on the banks of the river and Mr Twigger was called out on six occasions but Jack evaded capture every time.

He was eventually caught by Dave Hemingway, the resident keeper at Temple Lock, who cornered him and stopped him swimming off by blocking the river with a dinghy.

Mr Twigger and his wife Helen chased Jack into a net and drove him home. However, within days he had escaped again.

Jack was seen at various points along the river in Henley during the royal regatta and in the following months popped up at Hennerton Backwater, near Wargrave, Cookham, Maidenhead and Marlow.

He became such a popular sight among river users that one anonymous fan set up a Twitter account in his name.

Published 06/01/14

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