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Taipei Zoo’s capybaras sneak out of pen for quick stroll

Zookeepers escort animals on 20-minute adventure, guide pair home safely

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Mei Mei the capybara with her two offspring Chia Chia and Tung Tung. (Taipei Zoo photo)

Mei Mei the capybara with her two offspring Chia Chia and Tung Tung. (Taipei Zoo photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A capybara pup and its mother escaped their pen at the Taipei Zoo after zookeepers left a gate open during maintenance on Tuesday (Nov. 7).

Liberty Times cited Taipei Zoo spokesperson Tsao Hsien-shao (曹先紹) as saying that the outdoor habitat the capybaras share with tapirs consists of two islands separated by water. As the animals inadvertently carry soil from the land into the water when they go swimming, zookeepers have to replenish the soil from time to time.

On Monday, zookeepers temporarily placed the mother-daughter pair of tapirs Molly (貘莉) and Mo Huadou (貘花豆) in their indoor pens to conduct routine enclosure maintenance. However, they forgot that the capybaras have the habit of sharing lunch with the tapirs, so when the capybara family swam to the other island, Mei Mei (妹妹) and one of her babies born late July, either Chia Chia (加加) or Tung Tung (苳苳), slipped through the open gate, per CNA.

Since the animals are harmless, the zookeepers decided to accompany them on their stroll and gently guide them back home with boards to block their way and lead them toward cages for transportation. According to Tsao, while the incident ended without escalating into a bigger problem, the zoo will review its management and procedures to ensure that such accidents don’t happen again — it will also make sure to not underestimate the cleverness and playfulness of animals in the future, CNA reported.

Taipei Zoo’s capybaras sneak out of pen for quick stroll
Mei Mei and one of her babies caught wandering outside their pen by surveillance camera. (Taipei Zoo photo)