Beryl Shereshewsky of Great Big Story visited with employees of the Izu Shaboten Zoo in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan. Director Chiaki Nakamura explained how the zoo came up with the idea of providing open air hot baths for their resident capybaras by happy accident.
One morning in 1982, when the caretakers were cleaning up the capybara space with hot water, the capybaras started gathering at the hot water puddle and they put their bottoms in it. We came up with the idea to make a bath for them and from that moment everything changed.
The capybara’s anatomy lends itself to being submerged for hours in warm water, which makes for a wonderful sight.
Their eyes, ears and nostrils are on top of their head so they can keep their bodies submerged for hours at a time and people flock here to the Izu Shaboten Zoo in Shizuoka Prefecture, because this is the birthplace of the capybara hot springs.
Nakamura also explained that the calm nature of the capybaras is appealing to visitors.
They seem to bring a sense of warmth and comfort to the viewers and that’s why everyone gathers around.