In a year of MAX tragedies, Aeroplan changes and passengers using their feet to control their IFEs, we could all use a little more good news in our days. So, thank goodness these gifs of adorable giant rodents soaking in beautiful hot springs have been circulating around the internet. Is this real life? Can you see it in person? Is petting allowed? We’ll find out on this week’s edition of FlyerTalk Finds.
Um, What Are These Adorable Animals?
They’re called capybaras, they’re native to South America and they’re technically giant rodents.
Where Are They?
Well, we’re not sure where each of these gifs were taken, but, we do know that these capybara spas are in Japan, at roughly 59 parks around the country.
Why Are They In A Spa?
Good question. It gets cold in Japan in the fall and winter, so these capybaras’ caregivers give them access to hot, open-air spas to help these South American animals keep warm.
Why Are They in Japan?
Another fair question. The short answer? Japan really loves capybaras. They even have their own Twitter account. We haven’t done any research on why Japan loves capybaras so much, but if we had to guess, we’d say that it’s because they’re adorable.
For more advice on where to go in Japan, check out this FlyerTalk forum.
Can I Visit These Spas?
Yes! While Capybara spas are all over Japan, the most famous is in Nagasaki Bio Park, known by at least one online animal enthusiast as the “Holy Land of capybaras” is one of the most famous. And if you can’t squeeze in a visit anytime soon, their Twitter page is a close substitute.
When Should I Go?
In winter. The capybara only bathe in their hot springs when it’s cold outside, usually from December to February each year.
On the winter solstice (December 22 this year), the Nagasaki Bio Park has a Capybara’s Citrus Bath where these cute guys take their spa with yuzu citrus fruit for a relaxing, aromatic ritual (check them out in the video above).
On January 5th, the capybaras at Nagasaki Biopark , Izu Shaboten Zoo Park , Saitama Preschool Animal Nature Park , Nasu Animal Kingdom and Ishikawa Zoo all take part in a competition to see which capybara can take the longest bath which sounds delightful. You can see how last years’ contestants did here.
Can I Pet Them?
Yes! In several of the animal parks, the capybaras are in open areas where guests can come by and take photos of them and pet them. They’re reportedly very friendly and famously relaxed.