Capybara on the Rio Olympic course
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Capybara on the Rio Olympic course
The scruffy capybara highlights the wildlife to be found on the Rio Olympic Course in Brazil. Getty Images
Images
Big Horn sheep at PGA West
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Big Horn sheep at PGA West
Big horn sheep roam free in the Coachella Valley at PGA West. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Fairmont Chateau Whistler GC - bear and cub
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Fairmont Chateau Whistler GC - bear and cub
Bears are commonplace at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler Golf Club. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
TPC Louisiana golf course, alligator
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TPC Louisiana golf course, alligator
A massive, three-legged alligator has become the unofficial mascot of the PGA Tour's Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. Getty images
Pennard Golf Club in Wales
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Pennard Golf Club in Wales
Cows and sometimes horses roam the links at Pennard Golf Club in Wales. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Brora Golf Club - sheep and cattle
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Brora Golf Club - sheep and cattle
Golfers play through livestock at Brora Golf Club in the Highlands of Scotland. Jason Deegan/Golf Advisor
Kruger National Park golf course - hippo
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Kruger National Park golf course - hippo
A Hippo walks in the Kruger National Park as players putt out on the 13th green during the second round of the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek Country Club on Dec. 12, 2014 in Malelane, South Africa. Getty Images
Okeeheelee Golf Course - iguana
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Okeeheelee Golf Course - iguana
There's plenty of wildlife at Okeeheelee Golf Course in south Florida, including iguanas. They're not native, but they sure do like it there. Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor
iguanas
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iguanas
Iguanas are a familiar site in Puerto Rico on the golf courses and around resorts. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
Brazilian Burrowing owl
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Brazilian Burrowing owl
The Rio Olympic course is also home to Brazilian burrowing owls. Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Baboons in South Africa
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Baboons in South Africa
Luke Donald of England and his caddie on the par-4 third hole with baboons of the fairway during the first round of the Nedbank Golf on the Gary Player Course on Nov. 29, 2007 in Sun City, South Africa. Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Buffalo Run Golf Course - ostrich
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Buffalo Run Golf Course - ostrich
In 2000, Commerce City (Colo.) Community Service Officer Chris Collins helped to rope a ostrich that was running around near the sixth fairway at Buffalo Run Golf Course. Glen Martin/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Harding and elephant caddie
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Harding and elephant caddie
President Warren G. Harding uses Miami developer Carl Fisher's pet elephant "Carl II" as a caddie at the Flamingo Hotel golf course. Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Tiger Woods - Sammy the squirrel
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Tiger Woods - Sammy the squirrel
This may be the only time a squirrel dominates the news cycle: Sammy the squirrel at the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village sits on Tiger Woods' shoulder. Chris Condon/PGA Tour
Kangaroos in Australia
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Kangaroos in Australia
Golfers walk the golf course passing by eating kangaroos at Stanthorpe Golf Club in Queensland, Australia, some 225 kilometers southwest of Brisbane. CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images
Deer at Pebble Beach
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Deer at Pebble Beach
Deer lack golf course etiquette at Pebble Beach as they stroll across the green. Harry How/Getty Images
Osprey at Innisbrook Resort
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Osprey at Innisbrook Resort
The food chain is caught in action as this osprey on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort near Tampa, Fla. catches a meal. Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Baboon surveys golf ball
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Baboon surveys golf ball
This monkey has a closer inspection during the third round of the Carlsberg Malaysian Open at the Royal Selangor Golf Club, in Kuala Lumpur. Warren Little/Getty Images
Wild dogs in India
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Wild dogs in India
Jorge Campillo of Spain looks on as a wild dog is on the fairway during the third round of the Hero India Open Golf at Delhi Golf Club on Feb. 21, 2015 in New Delhi, India. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Saunton Golf Club - fox
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Saunton Golf Club - fox
A golfer catches a glimpse of a fox during the Glenmuir Regionals at Saunton (England) Golf Club on April 12, 2005. Warren Little/Getty Images
Baboons in Sun City
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Baboons in Sun City
Baboons cross a fairway during day two of the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC on November 11, 2016 in Sun City, South Africa. Warren Little/Getty Images

Exotic animal counters on golf courses around the world

It appears that the unofficial mascot of the 2016 Olympic golf competition is the capybara , the South American version of a roaming gopher, one of many exotic creatures roaming the fairways of the new Rio Olympic Course designed by Gil Hanse .

Despite local protesting of the construction, Hanse promised an improved natural environment, and the finished product, revealed for the 2016 games, appears to have delivered. The PGA TOUR reports the Golf Environmental Organization granted GEO Certified Development status to the course for "commitment and contribution to the enhancement of the environment."

For many of us, playing golf is when we're closest to nature, and wild animals are usually part of the package. Some parts of the world have more exotic inhabitants of courses than others. In Palm Springs, Calif., Bighorn sheep trot down from the mountains to roam the courses at PGA West. South Africa, of course, has legendary wildlife that roam near fairways. In Asia, monkeys are commonplace, while kangaroos can take over golf courses in Australia. In the United Kingdom, sheep and cattle graze on some fairways to this day. The southeastern U.S. shouldn't be sold short either; massive alligators and beautiful birdlife are abundant.

The capybara has inspired us to compile some of our favorite animals we've seen on the course, both in our own rounds as well as animals that have made a presence in professional golf events worldwide.

You can show us your animal encounters on Instagram using hashtag #LivingTheGreen .

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.
Related Links
Leopard Creek's exclusivity, impeccable conditioning and location adjacent to the Kruger National Park create a memorable day. Golfers may encounter monkeys, hippos, crocodiles, antelope, cobras, turtles and lizards.
Interested in playing a Gil Hanse-designed golf course? Here are some of his best public layouts.
Despite being welcomed in many parts of the U.K., it's about time more dogs be allowed on golf courses in the U.S. Heck, it could even grow rounds. What do you think?
Seeing wildlife is one of the greatest joys of golf. From whales off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to bears in Alberta, Canada, I've been lucky to see plenty of cool critters.
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Exotic animal counters on golf courses around the world
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