If you’re visiting The Izu Shabonten Zoo in Shizuoka, be prepared to dine with the beautiful stuffed Capybaras dolls! The authorities in this zoo have come up with a wonderful idea to use cute stuffed Capybaras to place in the restaurant seats to promote and visualize social distancing.
They have been placed in such a way to encourage diners to space out while being less problematic to the customers.
The Izu zoo had been closed throughout the pandemic due to strict lockdown regulations, but now it has recently been reopened since the restrictions were loosened. This is not the only precaution the zoo has taken though. There are rules that prevent people to enter without wearing a mask as well as hand sanitizers have been available at many points within the zoo
You might ask why the zoo choose Capybaras stuffed animals especially? The answer to that lies within the long tradition that has been going on within the zoo of holding hot baths in winter for these large yet gentle rodents.
The zoo is renowned to be a Capybara destination. It hosts many Capybaras-related events as well as souvenirs but the main attraction is during the winter times for the annual tradition. It is known for organizing open-air hot baths during winter for animals that are originally from South America.
This tradition started in 1982 when a zookeeper was cleaning one of their cages when he noticed a small group of Capybaras grouped up in a small puddle of warm water. This lead to the zookeeper making a pool filled with hot water and ever since that incident the zoo has continued this practice annually in the winter season.
But as the pandemic sees a resurgence, the thought of visiting the zoo in a near future might be difficult for foreigners. At Least the Capybaras will be there every winter.