World’s Oldest Zoo Names Labour Minister As Capybaras’ Godfather Weeks After Banning Public From Naming Animals

The oldest zoo in the world has appointed a politician as godfather of its new capybara offspring just several weeks after announcing it would ban public members from naming their animals.

Authorities at the Schoenbrunn Zoo, in the city of Vienna, Austria, named Minister of Labour Martin Kocher, 49, as a new sponsor and godfather of the giant cavy rodents on Thursday, 27th July.

The shocking decision reportedly followed after zoo bosses told the public to keep their suggestions to themselves because they think it trivialises the fight for endangered species as of Wednesday, 12th July.

At the time the zoo said: “By making animals less individualised, we put the emphasis in communication on the species and raise awareness of their urgent protection before some of them may disappear from our planet forever.

“We are currently experiencing the greatest extinction of species in human history.

“Some animal species currently only exist in human care. Many others have already disappeared from this planet forever.”

But now a video shared by zoo officials shows zoo director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck formally handing over a sponsorship certificate to the labour minister.

Image shows Austrian minister of labour Martin Kocher, 49, and Schoenbrunn Zoo director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck, 55, undated photo. The politician sponsored the capybaras at the zoo in the city of Vienna, Austria. (Daniel Zupanc/Newsflash)

Kocher said in a statement obtained by Newsflash from the Schoenbrunn Zoo: “In May 2022, I was sworn in as a federal minister in what is now the Federal Ministry of Labor and Economics and was therefore also responsible for animals for the first time as the owner’s representative of Schoenbrunn Zoo.

“A week later capybaras were born in Schoenbrunn. For me, that was a sign that I should one day become the capybaras’ godfather.”

The certificate reportedly came in addition to a framed picture of the capybaras for Kocher’s office desk.

Hering-Hagenbeck said: “Capybaras belong to the guinea pig family. With a shoulder height of up to 50 centimetres [20 inches], they are the largest living rodents.”

The zoo director additionally thanked the new godfather for his support, who then pampered the animals with fresh fruit and leaves.

Capybaras – native to South America – are listed as of ‘Least Concern’ on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.


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