Henry Vilas Zoo’s capybara Fiona dies at 12 years old

The Henry Vilas Zoo's capybara Fiona takes a romaine lettuce leaf from a group of children....
The Henry Vilas Zoo's capybara Fiona takes a romaine lettuce leaf from a group of children. Fiona died at 12, the zoo announced on May 10, 2023.(Henry Vilas Zoo via Facebook)
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 2:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A longtime and well-loved resident of the Henry Vilas Zoo has passed away. The zoo announced Wednesday that Fiona had died from what veterinarians believe were natural causes.

At 12 years old, Fiona had already lived a long life, in capybara years. According to the zoo, the South American rodents typically live eight to ten years in the wild. It estimates that capybara who have veterinarians taking care of them only have a one in five chance of living as long as Fiona did.

In its post, the zoo shared a picture of a group of children feeding Fiona a romaine lettuce leaf, which was one of her favorite treats. Moments like these made her one of the zoo’s top ambassadors from the day she moved here from Canada through the pandemic.

“During the pandemic, Fiona retired from public encounters but continued to delight guests with her expressive ear wiggles and flamboyant swimming maneuvers,” the post said.

Zoo staff also remembered the frequent “full body flop(s)” that would follow the all-over scritches she so enjoyed. Also, the watermelon and bell peppers that left her drooling and drool marks on her caretakers’ pants.

Morrison, the zoo’s male capybara, is receiving extra attention right now as he adjusts to losing Fiona, the zoo added. It explained capybaras are social animals, so zookeepers are already working with the Species Survival Plan and trying to find another friend to find him a new friend.

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