Visitors will go hog wild for zoo’s newest species

Flushing, N.Y. – May 1, 2012 – The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Queens Zoo is now home to a trio of Chacoan peccaries, a species found only in a remote dry forest in South America.

“It is very exciting to announce the arrival of these amazing and rare animals," said Scott Silver, Director of the Queens Zoo. “This was a species that was not even known to still exist a few decades ago. Now, being able to show them to New Yorkers helps us further our goal of educating and enlightening people about the need to help save wildlife and habitats around the world.”

The zoo’s peccaries are all male. Their names are Walker, Palito, and Chili. Weighing approximately 60 pounds each, they have a grayish-brown coat that is interspersed with long coarse hairs.

Chacoan peccaries have been designated as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). Their numbers have declined due primarily to habitat loss and over hunting. There are approximately 3,000 left in the wild.

First described from the fossil record, Chacoan peccaries were thought to be an extinct species of peccary until they were discovered in the Chaco region of South America in the 1970s.

At the zoo, the peccaries eat fresh fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and kale. As a form of enrichment, keepers often hide food throughout the exhibit so the animals have to forage, just as they would in the wild. This helps keep the animals active and healthy.

WCS is a world leader in conservation, conducting field projects around the world, including areas of Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina where the Chacoan peccary is native, but facing serious environmental threats.

The peccaries can be seen on the zoo’s Wild Side, near other animals native to South America, including Andean bears and pudu deer.

Barbara Russo - 718-265-3428; 
Max Pulsinelli - 718-220-5182;
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; 

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.