Chapa, the missing beaver, has been found.
Now, caretaker Connie Storrie just has to figure out how to coax him back into captivity.
Storrie, who has coordinated the search and rescue effort for Chapa since Tuesday, said the beaver was seen in the Arkansas River around 8:45 a.m. Friday. He broke out of his enclosure at the Kansas Wildlife Exhibit in Central Riverside Park sometime Tuesday morning.
She is not disclosing where Chapa was found because she is still trying to coax him out of the water – extra gawkers may spook him, she said.
“He’s in the river,” Storrie said. “If I tell you where he’s located, there’s going to be all kinds of people. That’s going to ruin any chance we have of getting him out of there.”
She said someone is camped out by the river keeping Chapa under surveillance.
A photo that surfaced yesterday of a beaver near Marina Point Apartments, near 21st and Amidon, ended up being a different beaver. The tail on that beaver was too short and the fur too dark, Storrie said.
How does Storrie know this is the genuine Chapa? She said she called his name while searching the river on Friday and the beaver started swimming toward her.
As far as she can tell, Chapa is unharmed from his four days in the wild.
“I haven’t seen him close enough out of the water, but he does look good in the water,” she said.
The strategy to get him back? “Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk,” Storrie said.
“We’re trying to convince him that he wants to come home,” she said. “He’s still having fun, and he hasn’t run into any trouble yet.
“If I knew that he would be OK and maybe find a lady friend that could show him the ropes, then that would be great, but I don’t know if that would happen.”
Mother Nature is conspiring against her in that effort. Because of the recent storms, lots of tree branches are floating in the water, which beavers love.
Though some would say to leave Chapa where he is, Storrie said he is not equipped to handle himself in the wild just yet.
“I would consider leaving him there, but I also know there are some very big beaver in the area, and that would be very dangerous for him,” she said.
Chapa has been coddled since being rescued as an orphan three years ago and has lived most of his life on a diet of apples, carrots and sweet potatoes.
“So much of it is instinct, but like I said, they have a lot to learn in those two years they’re with their parents,” Storrie said. “Unfortunately I wasn’t a very good beaver mom.
“I’ve got to get him doing some more things that beavers naturally do. I’ve got to make sure that once he gets out there, he’ll be able to figure things out.”
He most likely will not return to Central Riverside Park, she said. She said she has an area where she can keep a close eye on his re-assimilation into beaver life until he will one day be released.
“At least we found him,” she said.