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A moving fish story: Bahooka's Rufus '95 percent sure' going to Damon's

Rufus, the giant Pacu, entertained visitors to Bahooka for more than 35 years, until the restaurant closed in 2013. Damon's in Glendale is exploring adopting Rufus, but it's a big undertaking.

John Rabe

Rufus, the giant Pacu, entertained visitors to Bahooka for more than 35 years, until the restaurant closed in 2013. Damon's in Glendale is exploring adopting Rufus, but it's a big undertaking.

When Bahooka, the venerable tiki restaurant in Rosemead, closed in 2013, legions mourned. And the question everyone asked was, "What will happen to Rufus?"

Rufus was the main event, the big Bahooka Kahuna, a huge, ancient pacu — a type of piranha — that had been entertaining visitors for more than 35 years. Understandably, the new owners of Bahooka want to do their own thing with the space and have been letting Rufus stay until he can be adopted out. The website HiddenLA has been trying to find a new home for the fish and announced this week that Damon's, the tiki restaurant in Glendale, is VERY interested in taking him on.

But it's not like the time I adopted a half dozen of Steve Julian's goldfish (10 years later, they're still fat and happy in my outdoor koi pond). This is a major undertaking. For an update, I called up HiddenLA's Lynn Garrett, who has been raising funds and working behind the scenes, and she gave me the real fish story.

"We're getting closer and closer all the time," she said Friday after a phone meeting with Damon's. "There's a lot of logistics involved, so that's one of the toughest things. And also there's been quite a lot of press attention," a mixed blessing. "We are 95 percent sure that he's going to Damon's, and we have to work out the logistics of undertaking that."

For instance, Lynn says Rufus is still living in his original tank, and it needs to be replaced. They have to make sure this 35+ year old fish doesn't die of shock on the journey from Rosemead to Glendale. And Damon's needs to make sure it can support, literally, a ton and a half of fish, tank, and water.

Meantime, Rufus is lonely. No longer is he presiding over birthdays and getting too many carrots from happy Bahookans. Lynn says when she went to Bahooka this week, and they turned the lights on, Rufus rushed over to see her.

Stay tuned for updates.


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