Capybara, capybara, capybara! World's favorite rodent returns to Prague Zoo

Achieving online fame for their gregarious lifestyle and water-loving ways, capybara fans will be thrilled to visit these 'water pigs' in Prague.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 13.11.2023 16:00:00 (updated on 13.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Begged for by meme-loving masses worldwide, capybaras, the jumbo rodent stars of social media, are again making waves at Prague Zoo.

On Saturday, the zoo ceremoniously reintroduced a pair of the beloved South American rodents into the zoo family, following a decade's absence. The event, attended by hundreds of visitors, saw the capybaras presented with a bouquet of carrots and the unveiling of a special capybara-themed t-shirt.

Voting is currently underway to propose names for the capybaras through the Blesk.cz Facebook page. Breeders will select five options, and the ultimate name will be determined by a popular poll.

Water pigs: A social phenomenon

The capybara, known for its affinity for water, spends an estimated ten minutes submerged and even mates in aquatic environs; its Latin name means "water hog." At 60 kg, capybaras rank as the planet's largest living rodents.

Zoo spokesperson Markéta Hoidekrová acknowledged the high demand for these creatures, driven by social media and public curiosity, which prompted the zoo to acquire its capybaras from Germany and Denmark. Zoo officials are hopeful for offspring from the young breeding pair.

The sociable swimmers' surge in online renown can be traced from initial internet images to full viral dominance on TikTok and YouTube. Katsuhito Watanabe's videos of Capybaras enjoying yuzu baths as well as the viral earworm song Capybara all propelled the rodents to stardom.

Adopt or sponsor a capybara

At Saturday's festivities, the zoo announced that patrons can now adopt or sponsor the animals; the second option lets you buy meal vouchers for their daily feed. Capybara-themed t-shirts designed by illustrator Štěpán Mareš are now on sale.

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The capybaras will inhabit an enclosure with the anthills in the lower part of the zoo near the Chambal Pavilion.

Close cousins of nutrias?

What's the difference beteween capybaras and their distant relatives, nutrias, which hang out in Prague's city center, particularly on Vltava islands and waterfronts like Botič and Rokyta?

While both animals are members of the Rodentia order, capybaras belong to the Caviidae family while nutrias are classified as part of the Myocastoridae family. The latter are significantly smaller—usually a quarter of a capybara's size—and exhibit distinctly different social behaviors.

As the nutria population surges in the city, wildlife experts caution against feeding them, so it's better to head to the zoo for a safer experience.

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