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(Water) hogging the headlines.. four baby capybaras zoo's newest arrivals

By Linda Stewart

Published 24/05/2016

The four capybara babies with mum
The four capybara babies with mum
Capybaras are native to South and Central America
Capybaras are native to South and Central America

Four web-footed babies have arrived at Belfast Zoo as capybaras Charlie and Lola welcomed a new litter.

The capybara pups were born on May 10 and are thriving, keepers say.

Capybaras are the largest rodent species in the world and are semi-aquatic animals with webbed feet.

The animals are from South America and are capable of swimming underwater for up to five minutes, allowing them to stay concealed from predators.

Their scientific name, Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris, means 'water hog'.

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."

Capybaras live in family groups of 10 to 40 and are vocal animals, communicating through barks, whistles, huffs and purrs. Belfast Zoo's capybaras are located at the lake area, beside the play park.

They inhabit southern Central America and northern South America in savannah and rainforests near ponds, rivers or lakes.

A constant source of water is important as capybaras retreat to escape from predators such as jaguars and anacondas.

You can support Belfast Zoo's Capybaras by taking part in the adoption scheme.

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