There is nothing more heart-warming than a true love story that begins with someone relentlessly unlucky-in-love and ends with a ‘happily-ever-after’ – except, perhaps, if that love story is between two adorable animals!

Keepers at a Sussex Zoo are celebrating love this week as a romantic Valentine’s meal they arranged for a pair of capybaras has resulted in the arrival of a beautiful capybara baby girl – the first at the zoo in 11 years, born on 22nd June.

Female Clementine spent several years searching for her Mr Right. A lady who refused to settle for just anyone, Clementine had rejected many potential suitors over the years, and keepers had almost given up hope of finding her a mate.

Young stud, Augustus, came onto the scene at the end of last year, and determined to persuade Clementine of his worthy charms, keepers carried out very slow and careful introductions over the months that followed.

To ‘ramp up’ the romance earlier this year, keepers arranged a romantic meal for the pair for Valentine’s Day – complete with white linen table setting, flowers, cloche, and heart decorations, in the hopes of soon hearing the pitter patter of tiny hooves.

Head Keeper, Gemma Romanis, commented: “We were over the moon to discover the new baby a couple of weeks ago, not only because it’s our first capybara pup in over a decade, but because everyone has been rooting for Clementine and Augustus – and our efforts to help them find love really worked.”

“Clementine has been with us for a long time, and is very affectionate and loving with us, but in contrast, had been very dismissive towards other capybaras we’ve tried to introduce

over the years. When we saw a glimmer of hope in her behaviour towards Augustus, we did everything we could to encourage it. In a lovely turn of events, the dates between the romantic meal to the arrival of the new baby, against the gestation period for capybaras, suggest that maybe our Valentine’s meal was even more of a success than we thought!”

The new family of three are now inseparable, barely parting more than a few steps from each other, and keepers have observed that baby girl is healthy, lively, and already very confident – showing she feels safe and secure under her parents’ careful watch. First-time parents Clementine and Augustus have taken completely naturally to their new duties.

Visitors to the Zoo can now watch the little babe’s sweet antics as she bounces around in the enclosure she shares with her parents and the Zoo’s three North American Beavers.