Café at Japanese zoo uses cuddly capybaras to enforce social distancing

Dining with a menagerie could become the norm

Helen Coffey
Friday 22 May 2020 09:54 BST
Capybaras make the perfect dining companions
Capybaras make the perfect dining companions

A café at a zoo in Japan is the latest eatery to get creative when it comes to encouraging diners to practice social distancing.

Izu Shaboten Zoo in Shizuoka has filled its café with huge stuffed capybaras – giant rodents that are native to South America.

The cute toys are sitting around the café’s tables, meaning patrons are forced to sit further apart from one another and therefore maintain a 2m distance.

The café is also dotted with giraffes, tigers and what appears to be a lemur.

Johnny Suputama, who shared the pictures on social media, wrote: “Why capybaras, you ask? Well this zoo is credited with being the first (in 1982) to introduce the animals to hot baths and ever since then it’s become a thing.”

He posted a link showing the creatures happily bathing in hot springs.

Capybaras are also the largest living rodent in the world.

Izu Shaboten Zoo isn’t the first place to introduce novel measures when it comes to social distancing.

Maison Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, is seating customers with stuffed toy pandas to stop them feeling lonely while eating under social distancing restrictions.

It recently reopened after Thailand relaxed lockdown restrictions for businesses earlier this month, but owner Natthwut Rodchanapanthkul was concerned that the new social distancing measures were making solo diners feel lonely.

He came up with the stuffed toy initiative to bring some normality back to the restaurant.

Elsewhere, the Inn at Little Washington in Virginia has decided to seat well-dressed mannequins at tables they are unable to use in order to comply with new state regulations.

When the three-Michelin-star property reopens on 29 May, the number of human guests will be limited to 50 per cent capacity; mannequins will be seated alongside diners and dressed in 1940s garb.

And in Amsterdam, the Mediamatic Eten has created mini greenhouses in order to seat diners without breaking social distancing guidelines.

Waiting staff are using long wooden planks to serve guests from a distance.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in