Japan’s capybaras love hot baths in winter

Stress relief in wildlife
Animal pleasure: Japan’s capybaras love hot baths in winter

Capybaras in the hot bath at Izu Shaboten Zoo

© Izu Shaboten Zoo / DPA

Stress relief in hot springs – in two ways, so to speak. Because when the capybaras climb into a warm pool in a Japanese zoo, it is said that it also has a relaxing effect on the human viewers.

For the Japanese, there is nothing more relaxing than a pleasantly hot bath in the onsen. This is the name of the natural hot springs that are common in certain parts of the country. But it’s not just the people there who love their hot baths: At the Izu Shaboten Zoo in Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture of Saitama, the cute capybaras, very popular with visitors, also cavort with their babies in a hot open-air pool when it gets too chilly for them in winter. This is how they warm up and relax, as a spokeswoman for the zoo told the German Press Agency.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the facility, one of the capybaras ceremoniously cut a ribbon of grass, whereupon the cute animals jumped directly into the warm water, in which delicious citrus fruits were also floating.

Bathing capybaras as a big attraction

It was in the winter of 1982 when an employee while cleaning the facility with hot water noticed a capybara relaxing in one of the warm puddles. Since then, the bathing animals, who soon after have their own little ones onsen got, an annual attraction for the visitors.

The sight of the four-legged friends enjoying the hot water also has a relaxing effect on the visitors, it said. The bathing capybaras can be seen there until April 2nd next year – after that it will be pleasantly warm again outside of the water. You’re not the only one who loves hot baths, by the way. Wild snow monkeys at Japan’s famous Jigokudani Monkey Park also like to take a hot soak in the onsen during the winter months under the prying eyes of tourists.

Animal Stress Relief: Animal Fun: Japan's capybaras love hot baths in winter

Apparently, they don’t do this primarily just to warm up. In fact, just like humans, Japanese macaques seem to find onsen baths to help relieve stress in cold weather, scientists from Kyoto University found a few years ago. This is likely to have a positive effect on their chances of reproduction and survival.


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