In under one week, four Chacoan peccaries were born at the LA Zoo. Lucky for them, they were just in time for Halloween and got to enjoy some delicious pumpkin treats. Closely related to pigs, these little guys are native to Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay and were thought extinct until 1972 when they were rediscovered. See them this weekend at Boo at the Zoo!
These camouflaged little oinkers really blend in with their surroudings...
Chacoan Peccaries Debut at the L.A. Zoo
In less then one week, four Chacoan peccaries were born at the Los Angeles Zoo! The first peccary was born on Thursday, September 11 and the litter of three followed suit five days later on Tuesday, September 16, 2008. The four newest additions to the Zoo’s herd are currently on exhibit with their parents.
Typically, the Chacoan peccary will have litters of two or three after a five month gestation period. While they are young, the peccaries will stay close to their mother, using vocalization as a means of communicating with each other. If there is a disturbance, the female peccary will run away with the rest of the herd, leaving the young behind hidden among the rocks and vegetation.
When they are fully grown, peccaries weigh in somewhere between 65 and 88 pounds and reach a height of 20 to 27 inches at the shoulder. Since peccaries show no sexual dimorphism, they all have a brownish-gray coat with a black mid-dorsal stripe and a faint collar of lighter hairs across the shoulders.
Although peccaries look similar to pigs, they belong to a different taxonomic group than the true pigs of the Old World. In peccaries, the tusks point downward as opposed to upward. They have 38 teeth instead of either 34 or 44 like suids and peccary babies don’t have the “watermelon” striped coats that the offspring of true pigs, such as red river hogs and Visayan warty pigs, are born with.
In the wild, low growing species of cactus make up most of the peccary’s diet. Like hogs, peccaries have a well-developed snout used to root out bulbs, roots, tubers and rhizomes of a variety of plants. Occasionally, peccaries also eat small mammals and reptiles. Unlike the domestic pig, the peccary is a slow and dainty eater; they do not devour their food rapidly.
Native to Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay, the Chacoan peccary was thought to be extinct until 1972, when Dr. Ralph M. Wetzel of the University of Connecticut, found the species still existed in Paraguay.
Though it was only recently discovered that the species still exists, peccaries are listed as endangered by the IUCN. The greatest threats to the Chacoan peccary are brush clearing for cattle and hunting. There are 47 animals in a captive managed program with only 11 zoos in the U.S. currently exhibiting Chacoan peccaries.
The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For general information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the website at www.lazoo.org.