Japanese Zoo Uses Toy Capybaras to Encourage Social Distancing

Izu Shabonten Zoo Capybaras

Just like many public-facing places around the world, Izu Shabonten Zoo in Shizuoka, Japan had to temporarily close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as of May 16, it reopened with several new measures to help keep its customers and staff safe. One initiative in particular is especially creative (and cute)—the zoo staff has placed stuffed toy capybaras on some of the seats in its restaurant, encouraging diners to space out among the tables.

Other plush creatures are dotted throughout the restaurant, but the cute capybaras are clearly the guests of honor. Izu Shabonten Zoo is particularly fond of the giant rodents—it has various capybara-themed programs, events, souvenirs, and even an open-air hot bath that offers the Native American mammals a place to bathe. According to the zoo’s website, in 1982 a zookeeper was cleaning one of the capybara pens when they noticed that a group of them gathered in a puddle of warm water. The zoo keeper filled a pool, and the delighted capybaras immediately jumped in. Since then, the hot bath is their favorite place to warm up during cold winter months.

Izu Shabonten Zoo customers can experience the coziness of the capybaras, thanks to the life-sized plushies. Simply sit next to one and safely dine. What’s not to love?

Izu Shabonten Zoo in Shizuoka, Japan have placed stuffed toy capybaras on some of the seats in its restaurant, encouraging diners to maintain social distance.

Izu Shabonten Zoo: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube
h/t: [Colossal]

All images via Izu Shabonten Zoo and Twitter user @chacha0rca.

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