Where can I hug a capybara in the US?
January 26, 2016 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Is there a zoo, park, sanctuary, etc where I can feed or a pet (a) capybara(s) within the US?

I discovered the existence of Nagasaki Bio Park, a park where visitors are able to roam with, feed, and pet animals including capybaras in Japan. However I found this out right as I came back from a trip from Japan a year ago and was saddened that I missed out on the opportunity.
I am planning a trip to Japan next year but it would be mostly in the Hokkaido area and I wouldn't have to the time to travel that far down south. So instead, I am wondering if something like this exists anywhere in America which I can visit?
posted by xtine to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Dunno about hug, but this place has a feeding opportunity: Palm Beach
posted by larrybob at 3:04 PM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo. Call them to double check
posted by lpcxa0 at 3:08 PM on January 26, 2016

Capybaras are legal to keep as exotic pets in Texas, so you could look for a breeder or private owner in the state who would let you visit. There was a locally famous pet capybara living in Austin a while back, and IIRC Texas A&M has some kind of capybara medical program.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:46 PM on January 26, 2016

The Austin capybara owner I was thinking of.

A capybara breeder in Houston, no idea about its legitimacy.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:52 PM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I completely understand your urge to pet a capybara! Rocky Ridge Refuge in Arkansas has capybaras -- I think you can visit.

Also, get invited to a pet expo or adoption event! I have nuzzled with a capybara at one of these -- they smell like fresh hay and their muzzles are like tiny ponies'.
posted by vickyverky at 4:21 PM on January 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

Can testify to Palm Beach zoo, I watched some tourists feed a capybara lettuce yesterday while I ate a decent fish taco at the cafe.
posted by bq at 4:40 PM on January 26, 2016

Critter Lane Petting Zoo about an hour outside of St. Louis, Missouri. They are a wonderful small petting zoo and they take great care of all of their animals. They have at least 2-3 capybaras.

They do have "keeper for a day" programs where I'm pretty sure you would be guaranteed to get an up close and personal experience with a capybara if you expressed that wish! The last time I was there the capybaras wouldn't come close enough for me to pet them, but I did pet a camel, a kangaroo, a donkey named Maynard, and many other friendly animals. Just a great, small, family-owned rural petting zoo!

(And St. Louis does have a great regular zoo, too!)
posted by Ostara at 7:24 PM on January 26, 2016

Best answer: If you're back in Japan and flying via Tokyo, you don't have to go as far as Nagasaki; there are two good places with herds of capybara on the Izu Peninsula (just south of Tokyo, and an easy day trip).

Izu Animal Kingdom has a bigger herd, while Izu Cactus Park has hot springs for the capybaras to bathe in during the winter. Both let you feed and pet the capybaras, and Izu Animal Kingdom also has some friendly anteaters you can play with.

Also, according to the Capybara Navigator website (in Japanese) there's a place near Sapporo with some capys, but I can't vouch for it as I haven't been there.
posted by Umami Dearest at 11:52 PM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'll just drop this here, despite the derail:

Did you know capybaras will cross rivers and lakes by walking on the bottom, under water?

Told to me by Martin Kratt, of Kratt Brothers fame. Thanks, Martin.
posted by superelastic at 5:07 AM on January 27, 2016

Response by poster: I know I asked for within the US and I thank all the different responders, if I am in those areas I will try to check out some places mentioned (I might be driving across country this summer).

But Umami Dearest's answer made me really happy because I would be supremely excited to see capybara in hot springs since my husband dragged me to see the hot springs snow monkeys in nagano last time we were in Japan... :D

Had no idea it was legal to own in some states... crazy! Always thought the famous capy owners had a special permit or something.
posted by xtine at 9:39 AM on January 27, 2016

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