May 9, 2007 / 12:24 PM / 10 years ago

Monkeys, capybaras are zoo's odd couple

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<p>A common squirrel monkey sits on a capibara at a zoo in Kasukabe, north of Tokyo, May 8, 2007.Kim Kyung-Hoon (JAPAN)</p>

TOKYO (Reuters) - They're Japan's odd couple.

Capybaras and squirrel monkeys, unlikely neighbors in the wild, are living in the same enclosure at a zoo outside Tokyo and so far, they're loving it.

The monkeys ride on the capybara's backs and kiss the world's largest rodents, who tolerate their tricks. But in the wild, their paths do not cross -- capybara's live on river banks while the monkeys live in forests.

Keepers at the Tobu zoo said it took the capybaras years to tolerate the monkeys.

<p>Common squirrel monkeys sit on a capibara at a zoo in Kasukabe, north of Tokyo, May 8, 2007.Kim Kyung-Hoon</p>

Both species hail from South America and are not carnivores but at another Japanese zoo, a capybara mauled a monkey to death in their shared enclosure, proof that the cohabitation of the species is not always peaceful.

"This may simply suggest that all four Capybaras living here happen to be too gentle and meek to offend the monkeys," said Kenji Narukawa, the zoo keeper in charge of capybara and squirrel monkey enclosure.

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"I don't think this necessarily means that capybaras and squirrel monkeys are compatible in general."

Since local media reported on the odd pairing, hundreds of visitors have visited the zoo to see the animals in action.

"They are so cute. I am very happy to see such a rare couple." said one visitor, 35-year-old Motoyasu Miyasaka.

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