The Cape May County Zoo is excited to announce two new arrivals, Budette, a 5-year-old female capybara who arrived from Cleveland Metropark Zoo in July, and Mikey, a 6-year-old male who came last week from Sedwick County Zoo in Kansas.
The pair were recommended by the Species Survival Plan and they seem to be getting along very well, according to a county news release.
Capybara is one of the largest and longest-living rodents in the world. They are native to South America and their closest relatives include the guinea pig and rock cavies. Capybaras have adapted well to urbanization in South America. They can be found in many areas in zoos and parks and may live for 12 years in captivity, about double their natural lifespan.
Capybaras are docile and usually allow humans to pet and hand-feed them, but physical contact is normally discouraged.
Cape May County Zoo Associate Veterinarian, Dr. Alex Ernst, announced the arrival of the two capybaras and hopes they will produce pups next spring.
“The pair have been slowly acclimating to their new home and they have been released into public view,” Ernst said. “They can be found every day in our newly refurbished capybara habitat at the foot of the Savanna Bridge.”
Freeholder E. Marie Hayes, liaison to the Parks and Zoo, encouraged the public to come out and see the new arrivals.
“The Cape May County Zoo is AZA and ZAA accredited and our staff works closely with other zoos as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to aid in worldwide conservation efforts,” Hayes said. “While the capybara is not a threatened species, they are hunted in some areas for their skin. We were pleased to add Budette and Mikey to our mammal collection and know they will be a favorite of many.”
The capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and lives near bodies of water. They are considered semi-aquatic and are strong swimmers. Their pig-shaped bodies are adapted for life in the waters found in forests, seasonally flooded savannas, and wetlands.
Their toes are partially webbed for swimming and their fur is long and brittle for quick drying. When on land, the capybara is a highly social species and can be found in herds as large as 100, but usually live in herds of 10–20.
The capybara’s life span in the wild is about 7 years. They can range in size from 77 to 143 pounds and grow to approximately 4.6 feet and measure about 2 feet from the shoulder to the ground.
The Cape May County Zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The Cape May County Park is open from 7 a.m. until dusk.
Visitors over the age of 2 are required to wear masks or face coverings and everyone is expected to follow social distancing practices for the protection of the staff, animals and other Park and Zoo guests.
The zoo is free and donations are accepted. For more information on the Cape May County Zoo go to www.cmczoo.com.