Chacoan Peccary ‘Labors’ on Labor Day Weekend


Over the Labor Day weekend, at Knoxville Zoo, a Chacoan Peccary named Butternut took the holiday literally and delivered three ‘peclets’!

The three siblings were born on the morning of September 6th to seven-year-old mother Butternut and two-year-old father Squash. The newborns are reported to be healthy and thriving. Zoo staff said they are already displaying their unique behavior of “frisky-hopping”, which consists of running and leaping in circles in short bursts of activity.

Visitors to Knoxville Zoo can see the peccary family daily during regular zoo hours.


3_11953336_10155959592675648_1539903721720234569_oPhoto Credits: Knoxville Zoo

The Chacoan Peccary (Catagonus wagneri), or Tagua, is a species of peccary native to the Gran Chaco of Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina. Believed to be the closest living relative of the extinct genus Platygonus, the Chacoan Peccary was first described in 1930 based on fossils and was originally thought to be an extinct species. The animal was discovered to be alive, in 1971, in the Argentine province of Salta.

The Chacoan Peccary has many pig-like features. It is an ungulate with a well-formed rostrum with a leathery snout. The bristle-like hair is generally brown to almost gray. A dark stripe runs across the back, and white fur is on the shoulders. When nervous or frightened, it flees and raises the hairs on its back. While making an escape, it will spray secretions from its dorsal glands, which may be a signal for other peccaries to keep their group together.

Chacoan Peccaries often travel in herds of up to twenty, and they are active during the day. They are social mammals that communicate by various sounds, ranging from grunts to chatters of the teeth. Though individuals may occasionally exhibit aggressive behavior such as charging and biting, the species is not as aggressive as others. As a defensive strategy, members of a herd may line up in a defensive wall; unfortunately, this makes them an easy target for hunters. They also produce a milky, odorous substance that is secreted from glands on their backs and is dispersed onto trees or shrubs by rubbing.

Peccaries are omnivores, but the Chacoan Peccary prefers to feed on various species of cacti. They use their snout to roll the cacti on the ground, rubbing the spines off. Their two-chambered stomachs are well suited to digest tough foods, and their kidneys are specialized to break down acids from the cacti. They are also known to eat acacia pods and cactus flowers. They seek out salt licks (which provide calcium, magnesium, and chlorine) that are formed from ant mounds and construction projects.

Young peccaries are generally born between September and December, but litters have been found year-round. The average litter is 2 to 3 offspring. Females may leave the herd to give birth and then return afterwards. Newborns are precocial, able to run a few hours after birth.

The Chacoan Peccary is currently listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Numbers are decreasing as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation.

Rare Peccary Born at Fresno Chaffee Zoo

Peccarry 1_sm_logoWith only 3,000 Chacoan Peccaries remaining in the wild, each birth is important.  That’s why Fresno Chaffee Zoo is celebrating the arrival of a Chacoan Peccary on March 28.

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Peccary4Photo Credit:  Fresno Chaffee Zoo

The baby’s gender and weight won’t be known until the staff performs a wellness check in a few weeks. 

Also known as Taguas, Chacoan Peccaries are native only to the Gran Chaco of South America – an arid region covering parts of Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina.  At one time, Chacoan Peccaries were thought to be extinct, but a small population was discovered in 1971.

Chacoan Paccaries are well-adapted for life in the dry desert, where they feed on mainly on cacti.  To remove the spines from the plants, Peccaries use their snouts to rub pieces of cacti on the ground.  They may also pull spines from the cacti with their teeth.  Their digestive system is able to break down the tough, acidic cactus plants.

As roads are built, the Gran Chaco is no longer isolated and Peccary herds are decreasing.  As their habitat is fragmented, these unique creatures are becoming more and more rare.  Chacoan Peccaries are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

When Pigs Fly! Endangered Peccaries Born at San Francisco Zoo

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A litter of six Chacoan Peccary pups was born at San Francisco Zoo in early November. They are busy playing and exploring their outdoor habitat, in the company of the zoo's adult herd. The little ones love to leap and run in circles, an adorable behavior sometimes referred to as 'frisky hopping'. 

Chacoan Peccaries are an endangered species of New World pig, found in the dry shrub habitats of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina. They are threatened by loss of habitat and illegal hunting. Social animals, they live together in territorial groups, often extended families. They eat plants, including cacti, which they roll along the ground with their snouts to remove the thorns. 

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8 peccaryPhoto credits above the fold: Sandi Wong

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Meet Milo, São Paulo Zoo's Collared Peccary Piglet

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On March 24, São Paulo Zoo in Brazil welcomed a new Collared Peccary to the park! The male piglet was named Milo by the biologists who take care of him. Milo was born weighing only 740 grams, and in his first days, he was bottle-fed with milk specially prepared with all the appropriate nutrients needed for his healthy growth. Now three months old, he already eats tubers, fruits, seeds, and leaves. Peccaries can reach up to 55 pounds (25 kg) when adults, and gestation lasts about 145 days, with the mother giving birth to one or two piglets.

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Photo credits: São Paulo Zoo / Carlos Nader

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