How a couple of capybaras escaped High Park Zoo, leaving a lone male behind

The tale of two furry female fugitives on the lam from Toronto's High Park Zoo has taken an unexpected turn with the revelation they weren't so much like Thelma and Louise, but more like Bonnie and Clyde.

Turns out the 2 rodents likened to Thelma and Louise are male-female, so more like Bonnie and Clyde

Meet Chewy the male capybara, left behind by the pair of young capybaras, or maybe they even ran away from him. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

The tale of two furry female fugitives on the lam from Toronto's High Park Zoo has taken an unexpected turn with the revelation they weren't so much like Thelma and Louise, but more like Bonnie and Clyde. 

How's that, you ask? Basically when zoo staff met up to figure out what went wrong Tuesday night, they figured out they were actually looking for a male capybara and a female capybara that were supposed to mate.

The young duo of potential rodent lovers — about the size of a medium dog — escaped their new pen yesterday, garnering the attention of Toronto, the mayor — even international headlines. 

So let's go back to the start and find out how this happened, shall we? Take two.

Picture it, a nice warm Tuesday morning in High Park Zoo, and Chewy, a male capybara, is lounging around in his spacious pen all by his lonesome, oblivious to the fact everything is about to supposedly change.

Chewy is set to move to a new home, while a pair of young rodents take over his current one. 
Chewy the High Park Zoo's resident capybara explores his pen all by himself. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

City parks department workers were trying to introduce a new male capybara and female capybara to the enclosure to mate, and remove Chewy, when things suddenly went south.

In their attempts to make the swap, staff lost control of the new couple, hereby dubbed Bonnie and Clyde, according to Megan Price of the Toronto parks department. 

The pair of bandits then made their escape, while Chewy was happy to hang out at home in his pen.

So did Bonnie and Clyde have a plan in the works for awhile? Did Chewy scare them off in an effort to keep his home? Or was it maybe just a spur-of-the-moment dash for freedom from a pair of young lovers? 

We may never know.

But here are two of the more colourful local theories from Twitter.

On Tuesday, Helen Sousa, with the parks department, said that if you see the two capybaras, don't approach them.

"They aren't dangerous, they won't bite or anything," said Sousa about the rodents, which are herbivores, but "they are very skittish, so they'll run away."

Instead of approaching these rodents of unusual size, Sousa asks that you give the parks department a call and trained city staff will go and try and catch the capybaras. 
Another capybara, this time on a leash, joined the search for the fugitive duo Wednesday. But before the large, 68-kilogram rodent named Willow started scouring High Park, the capybara got to know John Northcott this morning on CBC News Network. 

Capybara 'captures' CBC reporter

6 years ago
Duration 5:14
Rodent of unusual size visits TV studio, captures John Northcott's heart

Mayor John Tory went to the High Park Zoo on Wednesday afternoon while officials continued to search for the missing pair.

"We're getting reports that they've been seen as far away as Scarborough. It would be quite a feat for these small, relatively young animals in 24 hours to have made their way to Scarborough unless they took the TTC," Tory said.

"We know raccoons have been on the TTC, so it wouldn't be a first."


  • An earlier version of this story said the two capybaras are female rodents, as told to CBC News by Toronto's parks department. In fact, one is female and the other is male, a department spokesperson said Wednesday.
    May 25, 2016 12:06 PM ET


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