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Nicknamed Caramelo, a rescued horse from the flooding in Brazil, becomes famous

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

A live broadcast of his rescue from a rooftop made him a national symbol of hope during catastrophic flooding in Brazil. Now we have an update about this scrappy young horse named Caramelo. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: First, this is a happy story. Dubbed Caramelo on social media, the caramel-colored stallion is doing great.

(SOUNDBITE OF HORSE CHEWING)

KAHN: I ran into him chowing down on grass at Porto Alegre's Lutheran University, where hundreds of human flood victims are still living at shelters there. More than 400,000 remain displaced. Louise Maciel, Caramelo's doctor, says he's gained more than 100 pounds since arriving at the vet school.

LOUISE MACIEL: He's right here.

KAHN: He's just in the courtyard.

MACIEL: Yes, yes, eating some grass.

KAHN: (Laughter) He has a good life?

MACIEL: Yes, yes. It's better than being on the top of a roof.

KAHN: He straddled the tin roof for five days without food or water until his nationally broadcast rescue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: It took dozens of firefighters and volunteers to get him onto a boat and out of the flood zone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JANJA LULA SILVA: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: Even Brazil's first lady, Janja Lula Silva, rejoiced at the much-needed good news. More than 170 people died here. There have been offers to adopt Caramelo, but here's the new twist. Sergio Padilha has come forward to claim the horse.

SERGIO PADILHA: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: "My grandkids used to ride the horse," who Padilha says is really named Tostado - Toasted.

PADILHA: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: Padilha says in the chaos of the floods, Caramelo/Tostado bolted. He didn't know what happened to him until a friend called and said, hey, turn on the TV. That's your horse stuck on a roof. The university wants proof of ownership, but Padilha says he's lost everything, including the 2,000 reals - about $400 - he used to buy the horse.

PADILHA: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: "Now that he's famous, he's probably worth millions," he says. And he's got a lawyer to help him get back Brazil's beloved flood survivor.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Porto Alegre, Brazil.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.
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