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Who Knew? Wild Capybara Found in California City of San Luis Obispo / AP Photo

Wild Capybara Found in California

Good thing a chupacabra hasn’t found it. A mysterious creature that was photographed at a water-treatment plant in California turns out to be a capybara, the world’s largest rodent. Capybaras are native to South America and are usually only found in the U.S. in zoos. The animal at the Paso Robles wastewater-treatment plant was first photographed by a plant employee as it made its way to the Salinas River. It weighs 100-120 pounds, and it may have lived there for several years: game wardens received a report of a wild capybara in the area three years ago but figured it was a mistake. Eights months after that, a farmer called to say a huge rodent had scared away his horse and begun eating its hay. When wardens arrived, they found capybara footprints but did not hear again of the animal until this most recent sighting. Because the capybara is harmless, wardens are content to let it remain wild unless hunters and trappers begin to target it.

August 18, 2011 6:55 AM