RIGA, May 15 (Xinhua) -- A Patagonian mara, a large South American rodent resembling an oversized hare or a tiny deer, was caught in a rural area between the central Latvian towns of Iecava and Bauska last weekend and taken to Riga Zoo, local media reported.
Riga Zoo director Ingmars Lidaka said on Tuesday that the exotic animal was extremely weakened and had lost about 30 percent of its body weight. It also was badly injured and had to undergo surgery, which was performed by the zoo's vets.
On Tuesday, the Patagonian mara continued to recover at the zoo. Although the recovery process was going slowly, the rodent had already started to eat, which was a good sign, Lidaka said.
The Patagonian mara is not the first exotic animal to appear seemingly out of nowhere near Iecava. A kangaroo was also caught in this area last February, prompting speculations that somebody might be illegally keeping an unregistered zoo somewhere in this region.
When asked about such a possibility, Lidaka said that it was for law enforcement authorities to investigate such suspicions.
"I believe that police representatives have been informed about the finding of the kangaroo and the mara. If they see signs of a criminal offense here they should launch an investigation. I do see such signs, because keeping a wild animal in captivity can be interpreted as cruel treatment," the Riga Zoo director commented.