Proud parents Charlie and Lola have welcomed the arrival of four new capybara pups at Belfast Zoo.

After the initials ‘Aaaawwwwws’ have died down the first question on most people’s lips will be, “What’s a capybara?”

Capybaras are the largest rodent species in the world.  They are found in South America and are semi-aquatic mammals.  They have webbed feet and can stay underwater for up to five minutes, which allows them to hide from predators.  In fact, their scientific name even means ‘water hog’.

These rodents live in family groups of 10 to 40 individuals and are incredibly vocal animals, communicating through barks, whistles, huffs and purrs.  Belfast Zoo’s capybaras are located at the lake area, beside the play park and can often be heard vocalising.

Zoo curator, Alyn Cairns, said: “Our capybaras live with some other South American ‘amigos’, including giant anteaters and Darwin’s rhea.  We have said ‘hola’ to quite a few new arrivals in this enclosure recently including a baby giant anteater, Darwin’s rhea chicks and now four capybara babies.

“We couldn’t be more delighted.  While the capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, it is hunted and poached for its meat and skin.  It is important that zoos, such as Belfast Zoo, help to raise awareness of this species and the increasing dangers which they face in their natural habitat.  We have no doubt that our South American babies will soon be a firm favourite with visitors!”

You can support the care of Belfast Zoo’s capybaras by taking part in the animal adoption scheme. Find out more at, email or call 028 9077 6277 extension 229.

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