A Zoo in Japan is Using Stuffed Animal Capybaras to Maintain Social Distancing

photos by twitter user @chacha0rca

The restaurant at Izu Shabonten Zoo in Shizuoka, Japan is crowded! But those seats aren’t occupied by people. They’re occupied by stuffed animal Capybaras that have been strategically placed throughout the restaurant to maintain appropriate social distancing.

So have a seat with these adorable stuffed Capybaras, who will keep you company as you enjoy your lunch, comfortably distanced from others. The Izu Zoo (we’ve been dying to write that) was closed as the pandemic swept Japan but recently re-opened on May 16. Several measures were put in place to unsure visitor safety, such as requiring masks, making hand sanitizer available, and of course using stuffed animal Capybaras to ensure enclosed spaces are never too full.

But why Capybara’s, you might wonder? The Izu Shabonten Zoo is actually a popular Capybara destination. It’s not only home to numerous Capybara-themed events but it’s also credited with inventing the Capybara hot bath.

According to their website, in 1982 a zookeeper was cleaning one of their pens with warm water when they noticed that a group of Capybaras had gathered in a puddle of warm water and were soaking their feet and bums. These large yet gentle rodents loved water but the winter chill was too much for them, so the the zoo keeper had the idea of filling a pool with hot water. Sure enough, the Capybara’s climbed in and seemed overwhelmed with joy. Ever since, the zoo has maintained an annual winter tradition of hot baths for their Capybaras.


  1. Why zoos, keeping animals in cages for humans’ own entertainment, are still around I don’t understand.

    • Most serious zoos now function as research, conservation, and education centers. Though private zoos should probably be closed (see Tiger King)

      • William Hedley

        May 23, 2020 at 4:27 am

        It’s the equivalent of Playboy carrying articles and stories by well known writers. See we are a serious magazine. See we are not an animal prison.

    • if there’s a cage with hot baths included, nice food, no harm, and internet, count me in anyday

    • yes I agree

  2. This is a cute idea and I think the dining area looks great. Nice quiet dinner companions. However, once the table has been used for a meal these snuggly guys become potential viral vectors unless they are removed and sterilized.

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