Toronto rock trio Rush has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. But you know you’ve really made it when three capybaras are named after you.
At the insistence of the Rush-and-rodent-loving public, the triplet offspring of the famous touring duo, Bonnie and Clyde, have been named after the band’s singer/bassist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart.
It should be noted that in September, a suburban park in Toronto was named the Lee Lifeson Art Park in an area in which the pair grew up and Rush formed in 1971, but that’s nothing compared to having living breathing dog-sized rodents with your name.
"We are thrilled to hear that three cute little furry creatures from South America now bear our names,” Lee said in a statement. “Thanks to all who voted to give us this special honor! By the way, which one is me? In the picture I saw none of them were wearing glasses.”
Lifeson, who is in Europe, told Billboard in an email, "Ahhh, so this is what happened when their mom and dad ran away! It is really a very cool honor to have these triplets named after us and many thanks to all who voted."
Yes, ran away. Where to begin, if you’re not up to speed on the famous capy capers?
Last May, two then-unnamed capybaras escaped from a local Toronto zoo situated in High Park. They were on tour, if you will, for 36 days.
If the people of Toronto didn’t know what a capybara was at the time - remember the national wildlife are moose, geese and beavers, and these guinea-pig-like species are native to South America - we certainly were familiar with the world’s largest rodents by the time they were captured.
The capy couple’s little honeymoon cost the City about $15,000 ($11,300 USD) in manpower - including the futile hiring of an animal tracker - and overtime. Calls came in from all over the Greater Toronto Area with sightings, some legit, some not. Finally, one capybara was captured on June 12, the second on June 28. They were nicknamed Bonnie and Clyde.
Well, Bonnie got pregnant and gave birth to three “capybabies” in February. In April, Friends of High Park asked the public for name suggestions and received 12,600 of them. A shortlist was decided and another call went out to the public to vote for their favourite trio of names from May 31 until June 19 - 44,817 votes were cast.
The winning set - Geddy, Alex and Neil - was announced yesterday (June 24) as part of a celebration at the capybara’s pen at High Park Zoo. The short list included Snap, Crackle and Pop, and Mocha, Chino and Latte.
The zoo has been around since the late 1800s and today - besides the famous capybaras - is home to bison, llamas, peacocks, reindeer, highland cattle, wallabies, emus and sheep. The zoo is free to the public and attracts over 600,000 visitors each year.