capybaras cma

Visit the NEW Capybara Chillout at Clearwater Marine Aquarium!

Don’t worry, be capy! Capybaras have been all the rage lately thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok. But despite being adorable rodents (the largest rodents, to be exact), going viral has also helped raise awareness and familiarity of these adorable critters.

Lucky for us, capybaras have landed in Tampa Bay and you can see them up close at Clearwater Marine Aquarium at the new Capybara Chillout. Brian Braitsch, President and CEO of Amazing Animals, Inc., is introducing three 9-week-old capybaras to guests at the aquarium now through July 7, and you definitely don’t want to miss out! We had the chance to get a sneak peek of the experience and talk to Brian about capybaras and what makes them so unique.

What are Capybaras?

Capybaras are the world’s largest rodents and are native to South America. “Their habitats can range from rainforests to dry forests to suburban. You’ll see them in cities as well. They just need water. If there’s water, you can find capybaras.”

Capybaras are also highly social species and are usually found in large groups. While Brian highly recommends not encountering one in the wild, when they’re raised in a habitat with humans, they’re happy to be petted and fed. “A lot of animals do like to eat them in nature, but our capybaras were raised with us and we do encounters at our facility. So, these guys have actually been meeting people since they’re just a couple days old.”

capybaras at cma
Capybaras in their CMA habitat

As we saw firsthand, they LOVE to eat and they’re normal diet consists of grasses, aquatic plants, bark and fruit. Brian also brought up a less appetizing item they like to nosh on from time to time. “They will actually eat their poop and that does help them because of its nutrients and they do find it very nutritious to do that.”

They’re about the size of a Guina pig when they’re born but can get up to 150 pounds once full grown! Fun fact: their gender can’t be identified until they’re around 6 months old.

Why CMA?

According to Brian, his organization and CMA have very similar missions when it comes to raising awareness about animals and different species. “We’ve have a really great partnership going on for like 7-8 years now where I would come in and bring in some ambassador animals. We have very similar missions, but I do have a different type of group of animals. We focus on terrestrial land-based species. While the aquariums focus on aquatic and marine based species. So, we have different animals but similar missions and people can kind of touch my animals a little bit easier than they can if you rescued a fish or a turtle or a shark.”

capybaras CMA
Learn all about capybaras at the Capybara Chillout

How You Can Interact with The Capybaras

The Capybara Chillout will be at Clearwater Marine Aquarium until July 7. Anyone is able to visit them but if you’re looking to do a meet and greet (which we loved and highly recommend!), you can sign up at either 11:30, 1:30, or 4:00 pm daily. The meet and greet experience is not included with general admission but is available for purchase separately.

During the meet and greet, we were brought it to the enclosure and sat in a circle around the perimeter. Each of us was given a piece of lettuce one at a time so we were able to get special one-on-one time with the baby capys. But that’s not the only interaction you’ll have – the capybaras definitely lived up to their reputation of being social and were wandering around in between bites to say hello to everyone and seemed to love getting pet on their backs.

capybara cma
We loved interacting with the capybaras!

Details and Info

We loved this experience and totally recommend it if you have a little one who loves capybaras or if you want to learn more about this adorable, unique species.

When: Though July 7, 2024

249 Winward Passage
Clearwater, FL 33767

Regular hours are 10 am-5 pm with extended hours on select dates (see website for details).

Parking is available on-site in the CMA parking garage.

Looking for more things to do around Tampa? Check out 20+ FUN Things to Do in Tampa Bay this Weekend.

All images courtesy of Brie Gorecki.