Auckland Zoo asks public to help name new capybaras

The two youngest capybaras at Auckland Zoo (Auckland Zoo/Twitter)
The two youngest capybaras at Auckland Zoo (Auckland Zoo/Twitter)

Two male capybara pups at Auckland Zoo need naming, and the public has been asked to help.

Zoo staff have found out the pups are both boys, and are offering free Auckland Zoo passes to the person whose name suggestion is chosen.

"Now that we know we have two males, we'd love your help in naming them," Zoo primate team leader Amy Robbins says.

"Think about their personalities -- they're feisty, full of life, have big personalities for their size, and bear in mind their South American origin."

The two South American rodents were born on June 7, and have become very popular since moving into their new enclosure last week.

Ms Robbins says they weigh in at 3.2 and 3.4 kilograms, and are growing by about a kilo each week.

The competition for naming them closes midday on Friday July 1. The feisty furry creatures' keepers will choose the winning two names and announce them on Monday July 4.

Name suggestions can be posted on the zoo's Facebook page, Twitter, or emailed.

Ideas so far include "Bruce and Wayne", "Asterix and Obelix", "Capybarry Manilow and Capybarrack Obama", or "Ronaldo and Romario" -- after football heroes of the animals' home continent.

Capybaras are the world's largest rodents -- an extremely efficient grazer and a great swimmer because of webbing between their toes, Auckland Zoo says.

They live throughout Central and South America in dense vegetation, close to freshwater. In Auckland they share their home with the squirrel monkeys.

In 2015, Newsworthy's David Farrier visited the first capybaras at Auckland Zoo.

"They make good pets, they're very lazy, they're better than hamsters, and they also love cats and hot showers," he said.

"They may be a tasty snack in South America, but here in New Zealand they are a treasure.

"In America they're a popular pet, but that's not allowed here -- yet."

One little known fact is there has been at least one capybara in New Zealand before, and it might still even be here.

"Hamilton had one 20 or so years ago, and to our knowledge it escaped and no one ever found it again," Ms Robbins says.