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Capybara California Dreaming

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 17th, 2011


Photo from 2009.

On July 22, 2011, Nick Kamp, a wastewater operator, reported spotting a capybara at the Paso Robles Wastewater Treatment Plant in California. As it turns out, sightings of the rodent have focussed on two nearby locales to the wastewater treatment plant.

Officials in the Paso Robles area now say they may set traps after Kamp and other workers at a wastewater plant spotted a capybara three weeks ago.


Another shoot from 2009.

Kamp took photos of the animal during his 2011 encounter and described it thusly, “It had the body of a pig, but it had a longer nose and head to it.”

He said that the animal seemed calm, and swam with its head above and below the water.

Todd Tognazzini, a lieutenant with the Department, believes the capybara is an escaped pet, although the animal cannot legally be kept without a special permit. Department of Fish and Game spokesman Andrew Hughan said that the capybara isn’t dangerous, “just weird looking.”

Eight months later, a man who was feeding his horses said a large rodent-like creature came up, scared his horses away, ate some hay and then chased after a dog. The man fired a shotgun at the animal to protect his dog, and called wildlife officials after it left the property. Wardens confirmed footprints at the scene were that of a capybara, but traps they set caught nothing.

Two years ago, a capybara was spotted at a ranch near to the treatment plant, only a mile away, and the ranch owner took photos of the animal. Game wardens received a report about three years ago of a capybara in a pond near Hunter Ranch Golf Course.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


12 Responses to “Capybara California Dreaming”

  1. Redrose999 responds:

    EEEP! That is one we do not want breeding! They are rodents! Their population will explode and reek havoc on local species!

  2. AKDADEVIL responds:

    Funny how people can get multiple clear shots of a few possibly escaped rodents, but in so many years nobody was able to make a convincing photo or video of bigfoot… XD Just saying…

    Given they may have been pets that were released or fled and are therefore accustomed to the presence of humans, but still…

  3. Cryptidcrazy responds:

    He described it as looking like a pig with a longer nose and head. Call me crazy, but that doesn’t sound like a capybara. That sounds exactly like a tapir. I wonder if he got the two animals confused. They inhabit the same regions in South America.

  4. Cryptoz responds:

    The reason they so easily got pictures of this capybara and not Bigfoot is because Bigfoot is a primate, definitely more intelligent than a capybara, and probably uses its intelligence to stay hidden. It also has a more remote environment. I don’t know too much about the landscape in the capybara picture, but in observing it it looks like quite an open area, albeit with a lot of hills. Bigfoot live in the middle of dense forests. I think most cryptids either stay hidden because of (1) their largely unexplored environment, or (2) possibly some adaptation that helps them hide.

  5. AKDADEVIL responds:

    ^ the adaption might be that unlike the capybara, they simply don’t exist. ;)

    Don’t take it too serious, I’m not trolling or anything. It just made me giggle that people stumble across an out of place water-pig (that’s their common German name) and are able to snap such professional looking pictures as opposed to many of the alleged cryptids out there (not only primates), that people actively search for…

  6. Redrose999 responds:

    Well it’s nice for the Capybara to stand still for the shot. Truthfully? As a photographer, it’s very difficult to photograph a moving object. Try wiping out your camera (from it’s bag or your purse)last minute and snapping a random unplanned photo of a moving animal in the woods. Even with the digital age it is difficult to do. You have seconds to take the picture as the thing is vanishing into the woods, garden shed, whatever. I know, I do nature photography. I’m trained. You need equipment, time and set up to get good pictures. Most of these people who take these moving pictures are not photographers, in fact they only seem to pick up a camera to take pictures at family picnics. They don’t have a still subject.

    And add the fear/excitement factor and the shaking hand. Yeah, that happens. I tried to get a picture of a moving great white fin once (It just appeared on a whale watch in the distance). GOT nothing! Most of the BF encounters, the supposed creature is moving and at quite a clip.

    Also try doing this at night. Even a digital camera can’t focus that well.

    Point being taking blurry pictures of animals is easy. Taking clear ones of ones moving is difficult. In fact it takes me about a 100 shots to get that perfect flying Bee shot. I still haven’t gotten a clear one of the birds flying at the feeder.

    The average professional photographer takes 500 pictures of one subject before they find that nice 10 shots, and only two are worthy of the cover of National Geographic. Looks easy, but isn’t. So if you can convince bigfoot to stand still for you while you whip out your camera and take a picture, be my guest.

    Now with that said, if Bigfoot exists, with the digital tech getting better, we might get a good moving shot with a cell phone. But it’s not on the market for the average Joe yet.

  7. Redrose999 responds:

    I mean whipping not wiping! LOL funny typo!

  8. mystery_man responds:

    Redrose999- Well put.

    In this day and age of Discovery Channel and whatnot, it is perhaps becoming harder for people to appreciate just how difficult it can be to take good quality photos or footage of wildlife.

    Not only is there the “10 shots out of 500 that are any good” situation, but those 500 shots were often taken by trained professionals who know what they are looking for, where it will be, and how it behaves. They have often gone through great lengths to stake out locations and put in the patience to wait for just the right opportunity to take their shots.

    Even knowing what they are doing, where the animal will be, and under ideal conditions, it can still difficult to get a clear shot, and you can still have only a few good ones out of many taken.

    In addition, many of the nice animal photos that are clear and well posed are not even of animals in the wild, but rather under controlled, captive conditions.

    Regarding the clarity of these shots, a capybara on the loose in California is most certainly an escaped exotic pet. In that case, it is most likely used to humans and this would explain why the animal seems to actively approach humans (and horses no less), remains so calm, and is so easy to approach and photograph.

  9. Cryptoz responds:

    Oh yeah Well the official name isn’t the Maryland Goatman, usually just the Goatman, but its a satyr-like creature that has been sighted in Prince George’s County, I think mostly around the “Crybaby Bridge” on Governor’s Bridge Road in Bowie, as well as Texas. Look up the book “Weird Maryland” by Matt Lake.

  10. Mibs responds:

    Paso Robles, although remote from both Northern and Southern California metropolitan areas with many people it’s still a well traveled place and there are many ranchers and animal farmers in the area who undoubtedly let this one (and maybe more capybaras) out of their sights.

    I’ve know an owner in Hemet, CA and he has a dozen of these critters. They’re very docile and comfortable around human presence.

  11. mefine responds:

    AKDADEVIL, If this Capybara really is an escaped or released pet it might not have been too alarmed by seeing a person and didn’t see a reason to hide. So it was easier to get a picture. If Bigfoot exists it may be a wild animal or have good reason to be alarmed by seeing a person which would make it much harder to get a picture.

    Whatever the case may be I would probably doubt my sanity if I saw either a capybara, Bigfoot, or a Goatman stroll by. :-)

  12. flame821 responds:

    If they are anything like goats good luck keeping them all fenced in. LOL. But honestly, things like this bother me horribly. Introducing new species into an environment is never a good idea.

    These Capybara and the Nutria down South are a big concern, they are basically huge rodents and can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Look what is happening in the Everglades with the released snakes, its a recipe for disaster, especially as our climate chances and storms get worse. There are still a lot of Zoos and private breeders that were destroyed during the hurricanes and they haven’t found all the animals yet. Granted a large portion probably died in or shortly after the storms but with all those new species being dumped into the ecosystem I’m wondering what sorts of out of place critters we’ll be seeing once they hit a decent breeding population.



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