Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo Announces Rare Peccary Birth, Welcomes New Animals and Says Goodbye to Condors... for Now

Fri, 11/11/2011

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - November 11, 2011 - Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of an endangered Chacoan peccary piglet, the first to be born in the northeast. The female piglet will remain off exhibit until the spring. Also new to the Zoo are two Canada lynx and two Common rheas, both of which will be on exhibit this weekend. Two condors have been moved to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, where they will be trained for release back into the wilds of Columbia, South America. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo coordinates animal transfers through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP), which aims to manage and conserve a select and typically threatened or endangered species population outside of its natural habitat.


"To support our conservation mission, we partner with other AZA accredited zoos across the country as part of a strategically coordinated transfer and breeding program," explained Gregg Dancho, director, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo. "Our goal is to encourage new animal births as a way to protect and preserve the valuable genetic lines of these endangered animals."


Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is the first accredited zoo in the northeast to welcome a Chacoan peccary piglet and was the first accredited zoo in the northeast to exhibit this endangered species. Three male peccaries first came to the Zoo in 2007 and a female was transferred to the Zoo in 2010, specifically for breeding purposes. The female piglet, which is unnamed, will remain off exhibit until spring 2012, both because of the harsh winter temperatures and to allow for bonding with the mother. Born in late October, she was two pounds at birth and has already grown to 10 pounds. She was up and following her mother around within 15 minutes of her birth, which is not uncommon for these animals.


Chacoan peccaries are between one and a half to two and a half feet at the shoulders and grow to weigh between 66-88 pounds. They are most active during the day and then find a shaded area to cool under as the day progresses. Their hair is course gray to gray-brown, interspersed with long guard hairs. The have a whitish collar across the shoulders and under the chin. The head is extremely large and the nose tapers to a snout. Chacoans feed on various species of cacti, fruit, roots herbs, using their tough leathery snouts to roll the cacti on the ground, rubbing the spines off. They also pull the spines off with their teeth and spit them out. The kidneys of the Chacoan are specialized to break down acids from the cacti.


The two Common rheas, which were hatched on May 7, 2011 at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., arrived at Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo last month and are on exhibit in the New England Farm Yard. The birds are "clutch mates," meaning they were hatched in the same nest, making them brother and sister. These animals are not endangered and were hatched through natural breeding.


Rheas are large, flightless birds that look similar to an ostrich, with a long neck and legs. They typically grow to nearly five feet and 90 pounds. Their diet consists mainly of plants but also can include grasshoppers, lizards, beetles, and fruits. Interestingly, these birds are polygamous, with males mating with numerous females. The females all lay their eggs in one nest with the males taking on the incubation of the eggs and nurturing of the young. The young reach adult size within six months but typically do not breed until they are two years old.


The Canada lynx, which is considered a threatened species in the United States, also go on exhibit this weekend. Two female sisters, just one year old, came from the Minnesota Zoo in Minneapolis in October. Lynx weigh between 11-65 pounds, with a head and body length of 26 to 43 inches and a tail length of two to seven inches. Their diet consists of mostly of rodents and rabbits and they have a life span of 10 - 21 years. The lynx is active mostly at night and can travel quickly but not for long periods of time. A lynx will typically give up the chase if it doesn't catch its prey within the first few seconds.


The Zoo's two Andean condors, perennial visitor favorites for their prominent location at the entrance to the Zoo, have been transferred to Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. They are being trained in preparation for release into the wilds of Columbia, South America, which is expected to take place in six to nine months. These four-year-old birds, which are clutch mates, are the only condors to be reintroduced to their natural habitat this year. They were selected for release based on their valuable genetics and because they are afraid of humans, which increases their chances of survival. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo hopes to have a new condor on exhibit within the year. This is the third species from Connecticut's only zoo to be released to its home range, with the other species being Golden Lion tamarins and Red wolves.


Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $12.00, children (ages 3 -11) and senior admission (62 and older) is just $10.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members are also admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge. For information, call: (203) 394-6565. Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is located at 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut.