The story of this South American rodent is one of ‘men’s greed and women’s vanity’.
Brought to East Anglia in 1929, coypu were bred for their fur. Over time, several escaped and established successful colonies throughout the Broads. As females could have up to 15 young each year, their numbers increased, and their presence impacted on the landscape. They grazed reed beds and crops, particularly sugar beet, to destruction, burrowed into riverbanks, and even undermined tracks.
‘Coypu Control’ was set up by the government in 1971, and 10 years later, a co-ordinated effort to rid the Broads of coypu, began. It involved scientists and a team of trackers, and in 1989, the Broads were declared free of coypu.
The Museum’s coypu was donated by Dr Joyce Lambert, the geologist who proved the Broads were man made. It was her students’ mascot. Also on display is a hat, worn by the naturalist, Ted Ellis, and made from coypu fur. To find out more about Ted Ellis, see below.
Are you inspired by our Coypu? If you would like to make your own coypu puppet, complete with yellow/orange teeth, watch our video below.