After the end of the Japanese lockdown, the Izu Shaboten Zoo in Itō had to make sure all safety measures were respected – from giving out masks and installing hand sanitizer dispensers to ensuring social distancing was respected everywhere, including the zoo’s restaurants.

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In its “GIBBONTEI Forest Animal” restaurant, the Zoo made sure that guests would sit the appropriate distance from one another by deploying an army of stuffed animals to occupy seats that weren’t meant to be used. That way everyone, especially children, can enjoy a meal in safety and cute company.

Stuffed animals occupy seats that should remain empty in order to social distance correctly © chacha0rca via Twitter

The most popular stuffed animal in the restaurants is also the most popular animal at the zoo – the capybara. The Izu Shaboten Zoo claims the origins of the open-air hot water capybara bath. According to the zoo’s official web page, the first hot bath happened by chance during the 1980s when a zookeeper was cleaning the capybaras’ enclosure and turned around to find them having a bath in the hot water he was using to clean. By now it’s a well-established tradition, and one that the capybaras must enjoy very much since they’re semi-aquatic mammals.

Red pandas and giraffes are also among the stuffed animals that are now stable patrons of the GIBBONTEI Forest Animal Restaurant. The zoo has also issued an infographic telling its guests should keep a safe distance between each other equal to two capybaras, something that’s always useful to keep in mind. If you’d like to know more, you can check out the official website here.

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