As the Olympic golf events begin, most spectators are fixated on an unexpected set of visitors to the course: Capybaras.
These large rodents are native to South America, and the official Rio golf course is home to an estimated 40 of these critters.
As INSIDER reporter James Grebey noted before the games kicked off, the Golf Channel has reported “three-toed sloths, monkeys, boa constrictors, ground-nesting owls, caimans (a smaller relative of the crocodile), and capybaras chilling on the Olympic venue.”
But the capybaras have become the true Olympic stars with their furry exterior and zen expressions. Just look at this fella, not a care in the world!
Even the official NBC Olympics coverage crew have embraced the capybara “infestation,” realising that playing up the creatures’ involvement with the golf course has been a hit with viewers.
You know who else is excited golf is back in the #Olympics?
THIS CAPYBARA. pic.twitter.com/8kBN3C2Fsb
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 11, 2016
The Olympians out for practice couldn’t help but stop and snap photos of the capybaras relaxing near the water, just taking in the view.
According to Los Angeles Times reporter David Wharton, there is a rule that allows golfers to get a ball out of a burrow without penalty, but there’s nothing to be done if the ball merely lands next to an actual capybara.
“A similar rule exists for dangerous situations, such as shots coming to rest near alligators and beehives, but apparently not for capybaras,” Wharton reported. “A U.S. Golf Assn. staff member said golfers must encourage the docile creatures to move or incur a penalty.”
To (hopefully) get a peek at the capybaras for yourself, head to the NBC Olympics website for a full schedule of all the golf events to come.
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