“Leeeeet’s get ready to relaaaaaaaax!”

Every year at this time, some of the world’s top competitors show off their amazing skills, dazzling and delighting crowds in a contest to see who is truly the best of the best. That’s right, it’s time for…


We’re sure that sports/cuddly creature fans are already aware of the details, but for those of you whose brains are short-circuiting from the exciting cuteness, let’s review how the contest works. The Capybara Long Bath Championship is an annual event that’s now in its 10th year. This is a hybrid team/individual competition between the capybaras living at five zoos in Japan: Ishikawa Zoo, Izu Shaboten Zoo (in Shizuoka Prefecture), Nagasaki Bio Park (the zoo that gave its monkeys a crane game), Nasu Animal Kingdom (in Tochigi), and Saitama Children’s Animal Nature Park. At the same time on the same day, each park’s capybaras go into their toasty outdoor baths, which they can get out of whenever they please. The longest individual capybara bath for each team is recorded and compared to the other zoos’, and whichever park’s is the longest wins the championship.

Going into this year’s championship, which was held on January 8, Nasu’s fans were no doubt feeling confident, as their capybaras three-peated by winning the contest in 2019, 2020, and 2021, and Nasu’s victories in 2016 and 2017 give them a total of five championships, more than any other team. But as any true student of the capybara bathing game knows, it was Izu Shaboten Zoo that won the first three championships in 2013-2015, and their capybaras understood (on some level, probably) that 2022 was a chance to restart that dynasty.

▼ As you can tell from the determined look on the face of this Izu Shaboten athlete.

At precisely 1:30 p.m., the five parks’ capybaras were let into their bath enclosures, and with the creatures’ well-documented love of soaking in warm water, they cheerily started their soaks. The Ishikawa and Saitama teams were the first to be eliminated, with their best times coming from the capybaras named Sheeta (7 minutes, 22 seconds) and Selina (8 minutes, 58 seconds). Nasu’s chances for a fourth consecutive victory dissolved when Kobu decided he was cozy enough and got out of the bath after 37 minutes exactly. That left only two teams, and when Nagasaki’s Aoba exited the bath at 40 minutes and 15 seconds, Izu Shaboten clinched the victory…but the team’s top performer, one-year-old male Poru, decided to stay in the bath for over an hour more, logging a total time of 1 hour, 58 minutes, and 38 seconds!

▼ A full replay of the Izu team’s bath

Poru’s dominating display of bathing skills/luxurious laziness brings the Capybara Long Bath Championship back to Izu Shaboten for the first time in seven years. While he didn’t come close to breaking the all-time contest record of 4 hours, 56 minutes, and 36 seconds set by Nasu’s Umi in 2017, the win still brought smiles to visitors and staff at Izu Shaboten (well, extra smiles, since it’s a certainty they were happening at other parks too as guests watched the adorable bathing capybaras).

▼ Poru posing with his award

▼ The Izu Shaboten staff describes Poru as having an especially relaxed nature even compared to other capybaras, and he usually spends a longer time soaking in the bath than his habitat-mates.

With the championship over, the teams now enter the competitive bathing off-season. However, as this video from Izu Shaboten on January 16 shows, their capybaras seem to have a “no days off” attitude…

…so don’t be surprised if they win it all again next year.

Sources: NHK News Web, PR Times, Izu Shaboten Zoo
Images: PR Times
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