News Release
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
September 22, 2021
 Note: Scroll down to end of press release to download photos of capybaras.

Capybaras Make New Home at Brookfield Zoo

 Brookfield, Ill. — Brookfield Zoo is now home to three capybaras (pronounced KAP-ee-BAA-rǔh)—the world’s largest rodent. The two females and one male, ranging in ages from 8 months to 2 years old. They are currently getting acclimated to their new outdoor habitat, located on the northeast side of the Pachyderm House. The last time the species resided at Brookfield Zoo was in 1977—over 40 years ago.

Some may think, capybaras resemble a combination of a beaver and a hairy pig, but they are actually closely related to guinea pigs and cavies. They measure between 39 to 51 inches in length with a shoulder height of about 20 inches. Depending on the sex, the species weighs between 110 to 135 pounds. Well adapted to life near water, the semi-aquatic mammals have partially webbed feet, making capybaras very strong swimmers capable of staying underwater for up to five minutes, which helps when escaping predators such as jaguars, anacondas, and harpy eagles. Like other rodents, capybaras front teeth continuously grow to compensate from being worn down from their diet of grasses and water plants.

Capybaras are native to southern Central America and northern South America and live in rainforest, savannah, and wetland regions that border rivers, ponds, streams, and lakes. The capybara is listed as “least concern” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, although the species is hunted for its meat. The hides of farm-raised capybara in Argentina, which is the only manufacturing exporter in the world of capybara products, are made into leather goods, including shoes, belts, and handbags.

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Photo Captions—credit Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo
7650, 7694, 7712, 7724, 7756, and 7771: One of three capybaras that can be seen at Brookfield Zoo. Native to southern Central America and northern South America, the capybara is the world’s largest rodent, weighing between 110 to 135 pounds depending on the sex. The last time the species resided at Brookfield Zoo was in 1977—over 40 years ago.

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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