Knoxville Zoo’s peccaries are parents for the second time in 2015.  Over the Labor Day weekend, Knoxville Zoo welcomed three rare Chacoan peccaries, an endangered species native to South America.


The three siblings, known as “peclets”, were born on the morning of Sunday, September 6th to seven-year-old mother Butternut and two-year-old father Squash.  The newborns were up and active shortly after birth and appear to be healthy and thriving.  The peclets are already displaying their unique behavior of “frisky-hopping” which consists of running and leaping in circles in short bursts of activity.  Zoo staff are also monitoring the group’s other adult female, Zucchini, who is showing signs she may give birth in the near future to another litter of peclets.  Zoo visitors can see the family group daily during regular zoo hours.


Chacoan peccaries are native to the dry Chaco region of western Paraguay, southeastern Bolivia and northern Argentina in central South America.  Although they resemble pigs in their appearance, they are distantly related and not a member of the pig family.  Pigs, hogs and peccaries are all even-toed ungulates, which are species that walk on hooves. Other members of the order include giraffes and hippopotamuses. Pigs and hogs are native to Europe, Asia and Africa, while peccaries are native to the Americas.


They are classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which evaluates the conservation status of animals globally.  The decline in numbers of Chacoan peccaries is due primarily to habitat destruction, and it is estimated that approximately 3,000 peccaries remain in the world.


All Chacoan peccaries in the U.S. are on loan from the country of Paraguay.  Knoxville Zoo is one of only 16 zoos in the country that have Chacoan peccaries.  The zoo’s breeding program is part of the Chacoan Peccary Species Survival Plan, a conservation program coordinated by all zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in North America


Knoxville Zoo is Knoxville’s largest year-round attraction.  Located off exit 392 from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Knoxville Zoo is nationally accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is committed to the highest standards in   animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation, and education. Currently, the zoo is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  Admission and ticket sales stop one-hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865.637.5331 ext. 300 or visit