While it’s true that the likes of Jason Day, Jordan Speith and Dustin Johnson won’t be a threat to the attending golfers’ Olympic hopes this year, capybaras, mini crocodiles, monkeys, boa constrictors and other native wildlife will.
The course that will host Olympic golf next Thursday is located in western Rio’s Barra da Tijuca, an upscale neighborhood situated between two large lakes and on the edge of the Marapendi nature reserve.
The course was constructed last year despite protests from environmental activists who feared the devastating effects of encroaching on the reserve that serves as a home to rare butterflies, pines and other species not found anywhere else on the planet, according to The Guardian.
Because of its location, the course has become a new home for a host of Brazilian wildlife – including the capybara, the world’s largest rodent that can weigh up to 150 pounds.
“They chew down on the grass at night,” Mark Johnson, director of international agronomy for the PGA Tour told the National Post. “There are about 30-40 of them inside the course perimeter, but they live here and we play golf here, we co-exist.”
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The course is also home to three-toed sloths, monkeys, boa constrictors, owls and caimans (small crocodiles that can grow up to five feet in length), according to The Post. These critters are such frequent visitors that they’ve got their own local haunts – holes, 2, 3, 5 and 9.
The abundance of ground-nesting owls on the course could also lead to problems: They burrow into the ground and create holes about 20 centimeters in diameter, which could certainly derail even the best of putts.
While Olympic organizers may not have foreseen these problems, with just days until the Games they’re doing their best to address them.
According to Brazilian newspaper Folha De Sao Paulo, the IOC has arranged to have a team of at least five biologists at the venue to move the caimans out of the way during the match.