Capybaras show their human side with a dip in hot springs!

Itō, Japan - For the Japanese, there is nothing more relaxing than a dip into the hot springs or Onsen. But humans aren't the only animals who love a hot bath. Capybaras are all about a warm soak in the winter.

The tradition of giving these furry critters hot baths in the winter started over 40 years ago.
The tradition of giving these furry critters hot baths in the winter started over 40 years ago.  © collage: screenshot/ Instagram izu_shabotenzoogroup

Every year, visitors head to the Izu Shaboten Zoo in Tokyo's Shizuoka Prefecture to see capybaras frolic in a hot outdoor pool in winter with their young pups.

Capybaras like to escape the cold air by soaking in the warm water and relaxing, a spokesperson told the dpa on Tuesday.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the capybaras annual baths, a ribbon of grass was cut ceremonially this year before the cute animals climbed into the luxurious warm water full of floating citrus fruits.

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The tradition began after a zoo employee, who was cleaning the facility with hot water in back 1982, noticed a capybara relaxing in a steaming pool.

Since then, giving the animals a hot bath in the cold weather has become an annual attraction for visitors.

It's been said that watching the capybaras enjoy their bath also has a relaxing effect on visitors. The furry things get hot baths until April 2, 2023.

But Capybaras are not the only critters in Japan who love hot baths.

Japan's snow monkeys love hot baths too!

Japanese macaque monkeys, known as "snow monkeys," take a bath in a hot spring while snowflakes fall at the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
Japanese macaque monkeys, known as "snow monkeys," take a bath in a hot spring while snowflakes fall at the Jigokudani Monkey Park.  © TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP

During the winter, the wild snow monkeys in Japan's famous Jigokudani Monkey Park treat themselves to a hot bath in an onsen, or hot spring, while curious tourists look on.

One may think the animals are looking to escape the cold, but they don't do this primarily to warm up, as scientists from Kyoto University discovered a few years ago.

They found that the onsen baths seem to help female snow monkeys reduce their stress levels in the cold weather.

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According to scientists, this probably has a positive effect on their chances of reproduction and survival.

In other words, both capybaras and snow monkeys are a lot like us: they like hot baths because it helps them relax.

Cover photo: collage: screenshot/ Instagram izu_shabotenzoogroup

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