Knoxville, Tenn.— Knoxville Zoo is excited to announce the birth of rare Chacoan peccaries, an endangered species of wild pigs native to South America.  

Three babies, known as “peclets”, were born on Saturday, March 29th.  One peclet did not survive, but the two remaining babies are being closely monitored by their zoo caretakers and appear to be healthy and thriving.  They are the first off-spring of six-year-old mother Butternut and two-year-old father Squash.  The zoo’s other adult female, Zucchini, is also pregnant and expected to give birth within the next few    weeks.

Chacoan peccaries are native to the dry Chaco region of western Paraguay, southeastern Bolivia and northern Argentina.  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 hunting by humans and 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 Paraquay.  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 392A from Interstate 40, the zoo is open every day except 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 or visit