Wellington Zoo staff are getting into the Valentines Day spirit by playing matchmaker with their animals.

Pepe the 19-month-old male capybara has arrived at the zoo from Auckland to join the three females with hopes they'll be able to breed.

The match is made possible by a special database used by zoos all around the world, called the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS), run by Species 360.

The database has 22,000 species in it and 10 million animals.

Pepe the capybara is Wellington Zoo's most eligible bachelor at the moment. Photo / Wellington Zoo
Pepe the capybara is Wellington Zoo's most eligible bachelor at the moment. Photo / Wellington Zoo

Wellington Zoo's animal science manager Simon Eyre said the online record-keeping system had everything from medical records and husbandry to genealogy of the animals.

"When you look up your family tree, I can do the same with all the animals," he said.

"All the major zoos use it."

Eyre is able to look up the family history of any animal to ensure the ones they bring in for breeding are not related to each other at all.

"We do it fairly regularly," he said.

Last year they used the system to bring over some meerkats from Europe. The zoo now has young meerkat pups.

Eyre said the system was "vitally important".

"It enables us to have good records for stud books . . . we can determine how related any offspring will be even before they're born.

"We sometimes feel like an online dating service where we're matching animals together, and sending them on blind dates. We have our fingers crossed for Pepe and hope he finds love among his new herd."

Animal care manager Jo Richardson said Pepe had been settling into the zoo well, and was showing good signs as they carried out "protected contact" introductions between him and the female capybara.

"This allows the capybara to be able to see each other, smell each other, get close, but with protected contact so that we can ensure that everything is safe for all of them."

Those introductions had started last week and were going well, she said.

"He's shown a lot of confidence for a young, male capybara and the females have been very receptive to his behaviour.

"Pepe is a sweet and gentle natured animal and we're hoping the females will like him just as much as we do. Capybaras are pretty easygoing, so they will generally get on well with each other and other animals. It shouldn't be too difficult matching them up, they'll 'swipe right' to most, so to speak," Richardson said.

The zoo is also playing matchmaker for a few other species, just in time for Valentine's Day.

"We're in the process of introducing our Goliath Bird Eating Tarantulas with the hopes of breeding and we're introducing a male Kororā Little Blue Penguin to our current penguin population in addition to our planned Sumatran Tiger introductions," Eyre said.

Read more: Wellington Zoo stars 'complex' process to breed Sumatran tigers