The epic adventure of Toronto's most notorious furry fugitives came to a crashing halt early on Tuesday morning – all thanks to a bit of fruit and corn.
Staff at High Park Zoo captured the elusive second of its escaped capybaras, dubbed Bonnie and Clyde, in one of several spring-loaded, baited traps laid around the Grenadier pond area, park officials said.
"We had been isolating areas where there had been credible sightings for [the capybara]," said Megan Price, spokesperson for Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. "Staff had been opening the traps at 6 a.m. and closing them at 9 p.m. before leaving the parks."
Ms. Price explained that capybaras are not nocturnal, so the traps were left closed overnight because only raccoons would have been seeking food then.
"At about 7 a.m. this morning, we got a call from a resident telling us to come and get our capybara," she said. Two parks workers and an animal attendant were on hand to bring the cage home.
Pictures of the forlorn-looking capybara in a private enclosure were soon released on official park social-media accounts. The fugitive had been on the lam for five weeks after escaping an enclosure with its intended mate on May 24.
The male and female, bred in Texas and acquired via a broker in Orangeville, Ont., were meant to join High Park's veteran capybara, Chewy, in his hitherto exclusive pen as he waited to be moved elsewhere, but things went awry during the transfer.
Their escape triggered a significant search over the ensuing weeks, involving zoo staff and volunteers.
Ms. Price said the park's employees had all, at one time or the other, been called on to take part in the hunt, in rotations of three. More recently, the focus had shifted towards a more passive method of trying to bring them home.
"We had consulted with a number of experts and they had suggested to us that would be our most successful approach, getting to know its habits, patterns and behaviours. They indicated to us that they move quite quickly, and trying to net them or grab them was not going to be a feasible way to approach them," she explained.
Ms. Price said the newly returned capybara was awaiting a clean bill of health from a veterinarian on Tuesday afternoon before being reunited with its former partner in crime, which was recaptured on June 12 in similar circumstances.
The animals are six months old and still juvenile, and experts have been unable to tell them apart by gender thus far. As they grow older, the male will grow a scent gland on its snout.
And although they have no official names, Ms. Price said: "One may hazard a guess to what they might be."
Neither capybara was believed to have left the park during their high-profile escapades, although attention from overeager visitors often put the quick-moving rodents at risk of running into traffic.
Reporting sightings of the giant rodents became a social-media pastime for visitors, as the hashtag #CapybaraWatch took over, along with parody Twitter accounts from the point of view of the two as heroic rebels. They succeeded the former star fugitive of High Park Zoo, a peacock that went for a long-weekend neighbourhood sojourn in May, 2015.