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15 December 2012

Two tiny Collared Peccaries trotting alongside their mother have made their public debut.

Jave gave birth to the twins on November 24th, and their first weeks were spent bonding with her in the night quarters.

So far, Keepers don’t know the sex of the babies.

The twins are on now on view with their father GB and five-year-old brother Messi, named after an Argentinian football star.

Peccaries are ungulates, related to the large and widespread family native to every continent except for Australia and the polar regions.

Surprisingly, these relatives include zebras, tapirs, rhinos, camels, hippos, and giraffe!

All three peccary species are native to the south-western U.S. and Central and South America.

Collared Peccaries range from the south-western U.S. states through Central America and as far south as northern Argentina.

They’re omnivorous, but they do have favourite foods, including roots, seeds, and fruits.  They often eat cactus and will also eat invertebrates.  The twins will begin to sample solids when they are two to three months old.

Collared Peccaries are a very social and vocal species, making sounds that indicate alarm, anger, or aggression, or to call the group members to gather together.

 Infants that have strayed away from their mothers make a shrill clucking sound that alerts their mothers to seek them out.

In the wild, peccary groups occupy stable territories and show that ownership by marking tree trunks and rocks within their areas with scented secretions.

Pumas and jaguars are their major predators.  Male peccaries generally stand guard around the periphery of the group, but if a predator manages to get close to a group before it’s detected, the peccaries will scatter in all directions to make it more difficult for the predator to catch one of them.

When there are young in the group, one peccary will come forward to face the predator while the rest of the group escapes.

All three peccary species are hunted for food and because they sometimes raid crops such as corn and watermelons.  They are also losing habitat due to the clearance of forests for pastures and planting crops.