The species-rich South America enclosure at Hellabrunn Zoo has a new member: a male capybara named Wadras. 

The zoo hopes the new arrival will get along well with the other capybaras in the enclosure and perhaps even produce the first offspring in the near future. In addition to capybaras, visitors to this spacious enclosure can observe maras, vicuñas and a Darwin's rhea. After the death of the former male capybara last winter, who had to be euthanized due to health problems, Hellabrunn Zoo is pleased to welcome the new male. He will join the zoo’s two females who, after having spent the winter in the warm house, have been back on view in the outdoor enclosure since the end of March. The male’s first introduction to his new companions today went smoothly and he was greeted curiously by everyone. The zookeepers will continue to monitor the new arrival in the coming days.

Webbed feet, long teeth and very peaceful: Everyone at the zoo is hoping for offspring

“For the first few weeks after his arrival, the male was placed in a separate enclosure. With the final health check by our vet team now complete, the animals can finally get to know each other. Although capybaras are currently not listed as endangered by the IUCN, they are increasingly being driven out of their natural habitats due to environmental destruction and hunting, and we are raising awareness about this," says zoo director Rasem Baban.

Carsten Zehrer, head of zoology and curator, is delighted with the new addition: "Capybaras are very social animals, both with their fellow capybaras and with other species. However, while they may appear totally at ease, they are actually always alert to potential predators. We are now curious to see how the male will settle in with the other animals in the enclosure. Our spacious South America habitat has many water areas, hiding places and a large grassy area, and fulfils all the needs that capybaras have for their environment. If the male and females like each other, we can certainly look forward to offspring soon," adds Zehrer with a smile.

Close relatives and zoological collaboration

Hellabrunn Zoo has been home to capybaras for decades. Native to South America, the species is the world's largest living rodent. The capybara belongs to the cavy family, which includes the guinea pig. Sometimes called “giant guinea pigs”, capybaras are highly social species and typically live together in groups of up to 20 individuals. These herds consist of either a pair and their young or several adults led by the highest ranking male. The animals in the herd use various vocalisations to communicate with each other, such as purring, clicking, barking, whistling or grunting.

Hellabrunn Zoo participates in an international exchange programme for capybaras among zoos: the new male arrived in Munich from Osnabrück Zoo. In many countries, the animal's natural habitat is increasingly being used for livestock grazing. Water troughs for grazing animals, short grass areas and the decimation of potential predators have led to an increase in population in these areas. Capybaras are widespread in South America and are not considered an endangered species.