“Where are our capybaras?” asks Toronto area zoo

"What's a capybara?" asks everyone else
A capybara, the world's largest rodent "You didn't see anything!" The capybara is the world's largest rodent and two of them are on the loose in Toronto! (@Dreamstime)

The High Park zoo is a small, free-to-the-public zoo in west Toronto. Not as exotic as the Toronto Zoo, many of the animals there are hoofed ones like Barbary sheep, yaks, reindeer, and bison. They also have some large birds, including emus and peacocks.

Then there are the capybaras. These South American creatures may be the world's largest rodent, but their reputation in much of the world is anything but huge. It's safe to say that a lot of people haven't ever heard of them. In Toronto, however, that's all changed.

Capybaras on the lamb! I mean, lam! Never mind...

"It was his idea!" "No, it was hers!" (Getty Embed/Richard Lautens, Toronto Star)

As of Tuesday morning, two capybaras became the most famous fugitives in Canada's largest city. That's when it was announced that a pair of them had escaped their enclosure and were on the loose. Since that time, we've learned that they are a young male and female. The zookeepers at High Park were moving them into a new enclosure on Tuesday morning when something went wrong.

Some people have suggested that the current resident of this enclosure, an older male capybara named Chewy, may have frightened them off. Other think the pair just wanted to escape to start a new life together (Awww!). Either way, Toronto's parks department has put together a whole search party to try and find the escapees. Included in the party is yet another capybara, a female adult named Willow. (Chewy has better things to do, I suppose.)

Well, the peacock came back

Two young girls point at the escaped High Park peacock on their roof last summer. (Getty Embed)
This isn't High Park's only incident of an AWOL (that's "absent without leave") resident. Just last summer a peacock escaped and was seen wandering across fences and rooftops in Toronto before it eventually returned all on its own. So maybe this isn't a capybara escape so much as a short vacation? Until then, the search continues.

For those who live in the area, if you're lucky enough to spot one or both of the capybaras, you shouldn't approach them. They aren't dangerous, really. Just easily frightened and likely to run off. Better to call the professionals, folks. Willow is on the case!

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