The bristle-haired, tough-snouted animals from South America have moved into a newly renovated and expanded habitat funded by the zoo’s nonprofit foundation, zoo officials said.
The species was once considered to be extinct, only documented from fossil fragments, until some individuals were found in the Gran Chaco area of South America in the 1970s, according to the zoo. The males joining the zoo in San Jose are four of roughly 3,000 peccaries left in the world.
Though pig-like on first glance, peccaries have unique features that make them their own distinct species. Their teeth are shorter and straighter than those of a pig’s, their ears are small and rounded and their tails are “small and inconsequential,” zoo official said.
The nationwide zoo and sanctuary strategy to protect endangered species, called the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, listed peccaries as a priority animal to support.
The recently renovated habitat gives the zoo the opportunity to potentially breed and house more peccaries, said the zoo.
“Adding this endangered species to Happy Hollow strengthens our commitment to the conservation of species that need our help while allowing zoo visitors the opportunity to connect with an animal they might not otherwise get the chance to see in person,” said Amber Rindy, Happy Hollow Zoo manager.