Two Of The World's Largest Rodents Are On The Run From Toronto Zoo


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Sneaky sneaky. Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock

Toronto’s High Park Zoo has been left red-faced yet again. Thanks to a lapse in zoological security, two of the world’s largest rodents have escaped into the city. Despite being actually fairly massive, the partners in crime – named Bonnie and Clyde, of course – have yet to be captured by authorities, who have spent the last three weeks trying to hunt them down.

Zoo staff were left embarrassed last year when a sizeable peacock managed to slip away unnoticed and elude capture, despite it being one of the most flamboyant, colorful, and unsubtle creatures on the entire planet. These two new animal convicts, who broke free from their enclosure on May 24, will surely only serve to infuriate the zoo’s head of security even further.


These two escapees are capybaras, which are rodents closely related to guinea pigs that normally reside in South America. They’re highly social, and can sometimes be found in groups numbering up to 100 individuals. They can grow to over 1.3 meters (4 feet) in length, and some have been known to weight up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

They’ve clearly settled into living in the big city, and they’ve even taken to Twitter to share their exploits. It appears that they’ve been conversing about the nature of freedom with squirrels, and boasting about their escapology skills.

One report suggests that one of the escapees was caught in a trap, but managed to wiggle free before it was permanently trapped inside. They have occasionally been spotted by pedestrians but are, at present, still on the lam.

“Capybaras are pretty adaptive animals,” Luciano Verdade, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, told National Geographic. “Although they are relatively large animals, they can be deceptive in the proximity of humans.”

They normally need to eat grasses native to their South American habitats, but they are perfectly able to eat other vegetation in place of this. The sneaky rodent ninjas can even switch between being active during the day and night; even if they are spotted, they are semi-aquatic, which means they could evade capture by quickly diving deep underwater.


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