CONTACT: L.A. Zoo Press

April 18, 2018

Photo by Jamie Pham

As the spring season ushers in warmer temperatures and new life, the Los Angeles Zoo is happy to welcome an abundance of unique and endangered babies to the Zoo. Guests can now observe two Sichuan takin calves and two Chacoan peccary piglets out in their habitats while an Eastern bongo calf, two ocelot kittens, and seven Peninsular pronghorn fawns remain behind the scenes bonding with their mothers for a few more weeks.

“The Zoo does tend to see a rise in animal babies each spring, but there is a lot more thought and careful planning that goes into the process than one might think,” said Beth Schaefer, General Curator at the Los Angeles Zoo. “A majority of our offspring this season are all members of AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs which aim to keep the North American populations of these species sustainable while also creating an insurance population, so these animals don’t disappear from the planet.”

One insurance population currently thriving at the L.A. Zoo is a breeding group of Peninsular pronghorn, a species of antelope native to Baja California Sur, Mexico. The Zoo recently welcomed seven Peninsular pronghorn fawns, born between March 4 and April 8. In 2002, the L.A. Zoo joined the Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project in the Vizcaino Desert Biosphere Reserve of Baja California Sur, Mexico because the species’ numbers were dwindling in the wild due to hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching.

On April 4, the L.A. Zoo celebrated the birth of two endangered Chacoan peccary piglets. These medium-sized animals are found primarily in Paraguay and Bolivia, and they have a strong resemblance to pigs. Chacoan peccaries are social animals that live in small herds of up to 10 individuals, and they are known for their tough snouts and rooting abilities. The L.A. Zoo is currently working with the only conservation project in existence for this endangered species called the Chaco Center for the Conservation and Research (CCCI) and hopes to help care for and breed this species whose numbers are dwindling primarily due to habitat loss and hunting.

The L.A. Zoo welcomed two male Sichuan takin calves, born on March 6 and 9. Takin (pronounced “TAH-kin”), are stocky goat-antelopes native to China’s remote mountain forests with short legs, large hooves with two toes, and a well-developed spur that makes them sure-footed on steep terrain and rocky cliffs. Although they are considered national treasures in China and are protected by law, this vulnerable species continues to be threatened by overhunting, habitat loss, and fragmentation.

On March 13, two female ocelot kittens were born to first-time parents paired together through an SSP breeding program. Averaging about twice the size of a domestic cat, ocelots are found in diverse habitats from Arizona and Texas in the U.S. through Mexico, Central America, and much of South America. Nocturnal and secretive, much remains unknown about their biology and habits. The birth of these kittens is a wonderful start to helping secure the future of this species of cat.

On April 6, the L.A. Zoo welcomed a female Eastern bongo calf, a large antelope found in Kenya. Over the last few years, the Zoo has made breeding this species a priority because of its dwindling numbers in the wild due to logging and poaching.

While the L.A. Zoo welcomes animal babies of many species each spring, it is important to remember that babies grow into adults and contribute an important role in their species. “Babies are cute, and we all love watching them discover the world through their perspective,” said Schaefer. “But, these babies are so much more than just cute. They represent the future of their species, and we’re proud to be able to share their journey with Angelenos and help educate our guests about the incredible biodiversity in our world.”

About the Los Angeles Zoo

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing nearly 1.8 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered. Its lush grounds on 113 acres feature a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants. The Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways. Admission is $21 for adults and $16 for children ages 2 to 12. The Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For information, call (323) 644-4200 or visit the L.A. Zoo Web site at www.lazoo.org.

About Species Survival Plan (SSP) Programs

An AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program strives to manage and conserve a select and typically threatened or endangered, ex situ species population with the cooperation of AZA-accredited institutions. SSP Programs develop a Breeding and Transfer Plan that identifies population management goals and recommendations to ensure the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied population. There are currently nearly 500 SSP Programs, each managed by their corresponding Taxon Advisory Groups (TAGs), within AZA.