Endangered Piglets on Display at LA Zoo

Three baby Chacoan peccaries were born earlier this month, the zoo said

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tad Motoyama/LA Zoo
    Three Chacoan peccary piglets are now on display at the LA Zoo. The breed is critically endangered, with many scientists believing they were extinct until the 1970s. Photo by Tad Motoyama, courtesy Los Angeles Zoo.

    The Los Angeles Zoo already has a wolf, but visitors to the park can now also see three little piglets on exhibit.

    The baby Chacoan peccaries, an endangered pig-like mammal originating in South America, were born at the LA Zoo June 3, zoo officials announced Monday.

    The furred piglets are the first litter for the mother and father peccaries, the zoo said in a press release.

    "You have mom, aunty and grandma and dad and uncles — everyone is on board. It's a whole family unit. It's very cute," Jessica Moran, an animal keeper for the zoo, told City News Service.

    The Zoo first acquired the rare species in 2000, and it is one of 18 zoos outside Paraguay that have Chacoan peccaries on exhibit.

    The Chacoan peccary is endangered due to hunting for human food and habitat destruction for cattle ranching.

    An estimated several thousand individuals survive in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, where the animals live in the Gran Chaco, a dense and dry shrub plain. Chacoan peccaries feed on tough plants like cacti and live in small herds.

    The species was thought to be extinct until 1972. It is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

    The L.A. Zoo works with the Chaco Center for the Conservation and Research to preserve the species.

    "It's really amazing to find an animal we thought we had lost is still with us and we can try to recover that species," Moran said.