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Capybaras Soak Happily in Onsen Yuzuyu

©Jiji Press Photo

One winter, it was found that the Capybaras* at the Izu Shaboten Zoo in Shizuoka Prefecture, just southwest of Tokyo, liked to soak and warm themselves in the hot water used in the cleaning of the enclosure and then the zoo started its Capybara spa. Tradition has it, in Japan, that bathing in yuzuyu (hot water with yuzu citrus fruit floating on the surface) keeps colds and flu away during winter, and since the Edo period the custom of taking a yuzuyu bath in midwinter has become popular. During midwinter at the zoo, “Capybaras enjoying their open-air spa” changes to “Capybaras enjoying their open-air yuzuyu spa.” Grouping together in families, the Capybaras appear to be in seventh heaven soaking in the yuzuyu, while their pups swim and frolic around them.

* The Capybara, a relative of the guinea pig, is native to South America and is the largest living rodent in the world.