Why were there guinea pigs running through a north Austin park?

Austin
Guinea pigs in a bucket

Austin resident Amanda McKinley helped rescue a slew of guinea pigs abandoned in a park near her north Austin home. (Courtesy Amanda McKinley)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Allandale resident Amanda McKinley was walking her dog through Northwest District Park when she spotted a tuft of thick gray and white fur scurry away in the distance. Then, one tuft of fur turned into nearly a dozen.

Running through the fields of Northwest Park were a slew of guinea pigs, likely abandoned by a previous owner.

Jumping into action, McKinley called her daughter to come with bags, plastic bins and towels. Scooping up the critters, McKinley found herself with seven guinea pigs and no explanation for how they got there in the first place.

“I really felt like it was Easter Sunday, and there were these little fluffy, you know — it’s like we were supposed to be collecting Easter eggs in baskets,” she said.

Anetta Paver’s two children pose with the newest additions to their family. (Courtesy: Anetta Paver)

What started as an impromptu rescue mission turned into dozens of community members chiming in on Nextdoor with care tips for guinea pigs and how to safely rehome the animals. McKinley’s neighborhood friend, Anetta Paver, adopted two of them as a surprise for her children.

Paver’s family hamster had died several months ago, and she was still weighing whether or not to bring a new pet into her family’s home. Then, two hopped — quite literally — into her lap.

“I mean, it was just, how great? The universe gives you what you need at the moment you needed it, and we needed two guinea pigs,” she said.

Through the process, McKinley has learned more about guinea pigs in the last few days than the average person might in a lifetime. Neighbors cautioned her to always give them away in pairs since they’re social creatures, never giving them away for free to avoid prospective owners looking to overbreed them, as well as what essentials a family adopting one as a pet will need.

“The bigger community communication was really fun,” McKinley said, laughing. “It was sweet to see everyone rally together for this cause — this random cause, but very sweet cause.”

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