Peccaries, Tayassu tajacu
No. of Young: 1-3 piglets
South American wild pigs, Collared peccaries have a rich and elaborate
social life. In the wild, bands vary in size from the family unit
of mother, father and generally 1-3 piglets. Bands may number as
many as sixty individuals.
all wild pigs, when aroused or frightened, peccaries can inflict
savage bites with their side teeth.
zoos in the UK the species was thought to be reduced to 4 or 5 animals
until a herd of nearly 40 strong was located at Flamingo Park Zoo
in Yorkshire, where an initial complement of 4 animals in 1968 remained
quite undisturbed until about 1982. The Head Keeper was a former
pig farmer from Ayrshire, and these animals clearly responded to
his natural empathy for pigs, thriving where in other collections
they had gradually petered out. Since 1982, under the Joint Management
of Species programme, Collared peccaries have been gradually built
up until today they number at least 120 in a dozen collections and
are well out of danger. In Glasgow numbers have fluctuated, and
currently we maintain four, with births expected in 2000.
Peccaries emit a musky fox-like odour which is released from scent
glands on their rumps. When two animals indulge in social grooming,
they stand side-by-side facing nose to tail. Each rubs its chin
on top of the others rump, thus accreting scents which binds the
whole group together with the family " smell ". Any stranger
not smelling of the group will be attacked and killed. Even now,
for no discernible reason, individuals will be picked upon by the
rest of the group and driven away. When these peccaries are upset,
often the first we know of it is a noisy clicking of tusks. Often
it is a female who has decided to give birth outside in a corner,
which she is defending against all comers. Rushing about with their
hair on end is an obvious sign of alarm or excitement, often accompanied
by emissions of a pungent musk, which tends to hang in the air.