Brownsville, Texas (March 9, 2023) – Staff at the Gladys Porter Zoo are overjoyed to announce that Amber, a 2-year-old capybara, gave birth to three healthy pups on Tuesday, February 7th. In addition to Amber being a first-time mom, this is also the first capy birth for the staff at the Gladys Porter Zoo.
The Zoo last had capybaras in the early 1970s, however, they never reproduced. “It has been many years since we have had capybaras in our collection,” said Walter DuPree, the Zoo’s Curator of Mammals. “Then, in 2017, we placed an elderly pair of capybara on exhibit. They were very popular with our visitors, but too old to reproduce. What a treat for all of us to have a family of five on exhibit now!”
Amber gave birth in her habitat under the watchful eye of her keepers and the visiting public. Even though she was a new mom, her natural instincts kicked in immediately, and she has been doing a wonderful job caring for her young.
The sire of the offspring is 2-year-old Hercules. He was donated to the Gladys Porter Zoo in spring of 2022 by the Montgomery Zoo. Per the AZA Species Survival Plan for capybara, Hercules and Amber were recommended to produce pups. Fortunately, Amber and Hercules became quick companions and she became pregnant a few months after he was released from quarantine.
Capybaras have a gestation period of five months, and litter sizes range from two to eight pups. Although they only weigh from two to three pounds at birth, the young look like miniature adults and begin to eat leafy plants almost immediately. Within 15 months they are fully grown, stand two feet tall, and females can weigh up to 170 pounds. Capybaras are the largest rodents in the world. Although they are not listed as Endangered, they are threatened by habitat destruction and poaching.
Amber, Hercules and their offspring are all on exhibit for the public to view. For more information, visit www.gpz.org.