Neighbourhood's fight to help little girl keep her giant pet rodent

·2-min read

A huge rodent has been surrounded by hundreds of residents of an Argentine neighbourhood to stop police taking it away from the eight-year-old girl who keeps it as a pet.

Pancho the capybara, who is reportedly the world’s largest rodent, has lived with eight-year-old owner Jorgelina and her family in the San Martin neighbourhood of the city of Santa Fe for five years.

Jorgelina’s father Juan told a local radio station he had been given the rodent when it was little and neighbours say it is normal to see the little girl lying on the ground sunbathing with Pancho or strolling down the street with it, according to news outlet Infobae.

Pancho the pet capybara.
Pancho the capybara has lived with 8-year-old Jorgelina and her family in the San Martin neighbourhood of the city of Santa Fe for five years. Source: Aire Digital/Australscope

But police went to the family home on July 3 after an anonymous complaint.

After the complaint was made, Juan had made an appeal for help on local radio stations and neighbours then went to his house, with about 100 residents trying to persuade the officers to allow the animal to stay with the family.

The residents surrounded the animal’s cage and prevented the cops from taking it, with the officers having to settle for simply taking the family’s details and leaving without the rodent, Infobae reported.

Pancho has remained with its family.

“Everyone in the neighbourhood wants it here, everyone takes care of it. I understand that it cannot be had, but they gave it to me when it was little and I raised it. What are they are going to take it for? So that he dies on the farm?” Juan told a local radio station, according to Infobae.

Pancho the capybara's owner Jorgelina (left). An anonymous complaint triggered police to come and try seize the animal in Argentina.
Jorgelina (left) and her family cried as she thought her beloved Pancho was being taken away to a farm after an anonymous complaint to police. Source: Aire Digital Australscope

The father had reportedly given the capybara to Jorgelina as a pet.

In statements to the same local radio station, Manuel Jaramillo, executive director of the Fundacion Vida Silvestre wildlife foundation, clarified "capybaras can coexist with humans, but in reality, they are wild species that should not be domesticated and subjected to becoming pets."

– Australscope

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