The sun brings warmth to the peaceful late afternoon. The zoo is a peaceful place in the afternoon, the sun warming the air. One baby animal has been attracting a lot of attention.
It is Tsubaki, a female Kubiwa peccary born in December last year.
This is the first time a Kubiwa peccary has been born and raised at Kobe Animal Kingdom (Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture). The birth of the newborn animal had an untold story of visitors to the park and the breeding staff.
The Kubiwa peccary is called “Kubiwa peccary” because the fur from the shoulders to the neck is white or yellowish brown and looks like a collar. They are found from North America to South America and live in herds of families. The peccary is a species of peccary that evolved like a wild boar in the New World, and is biologically distinct from the wild boar.
The Kubiwa peccary is assigned to the “Species of Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, which means it is outside the conservation assessment (not rare). That does not mean that they do not need to be conserved or protected,” said Tetsuya Sato, director of the park.
People tend to think that only the rarest species are subject to conservation and protection, but that is not the case.
The Earth functions on the basis of the diversity of life, and the preservation of species is carried out for species threatened with extinction. Within the larger framework of biodiversity, it can be said that all living things need to be conserved and protected.
Nature, animals, and humans – these three are linked. They are like dominoes that must not fall over. Kubiwa peccary is one of those domino pieces.”
Kubiwa Peccary first came to the park five years ago. Tsubaki’s mothers, Kaede (female) and Fuu (male, now deceased), came from Izu Shaboten Zoological Park. At that time, Kaede’s belly was full of life.
However, she ate her baby at her first birth. Subsequent births were also stillbirths or early infections, and she was unable to pass her life on to the next generation.
Then came the fourth birth. The father of the baby this time was “Hifmin (male),” who had moved from Omiya Park Small Zoo four years ago.
I had been thinking inwardly that there would be no birth. Daisuke Nakagawa, a member of the breeding staff, recalls, “I was thinking, ‘I wonder if she will give birth…’ It had been quite a few days since she was supposed to give birth.
On December 3 of last year, when the mood was such that they were ready to give up, they received an urgent call.
A baby Kubiwa peccary was born at ……!
Mr. Nakagawa received this call. In fact, this news came from a visitor to the park. At that time, a maple tree gave birth to a baby in the exhibition hall during the opening hours, while visitors watched.
I rushed to the exhibition hall. The first thing I saw was the baby still wrapped in amniotic membrane. This meant that the maple had been separated from the baby immediately after birth. At this point, my fears about food damage disappeared, but I was concerned about stillbirth and early infection. To confirm this, we took the baby to the veterinary hospital attached to the park,” said Nakagawa.
After the veterinarian’s examination, the animals were placed in a nursing position in an incubator that was kept as germ-free as possible to protect them from the initial infection. The breeding staff took turns feeding the animals six times a day, including during the night. Tsubaki drank a lot of milk from the beginning and was able to start weaning earlier than usual.
As she developed and grew stronger, the next step was to acclimate her to the outside environment, away from the infection-controlled environment. A reasonable degree of caution was required to gradually expose them to the outside air.
Thanks to prompt birth reports from visitors to the park and the hard work of the breeding staff in artificial feeding, Camellia grew up smoothly. At around one and a half months of age, she had grown up to the point of taking walks around the park to strengthen her legs and feet. Yuka Zoka, a member of the breeding staff, describes the interaction between the visitors and the camellia as follows.
Visitors who see the camellias walking around the park say they are cute and look at them warmly.
The Kubiwa peccary is not a major animal, but thanks to the camellia’s idol power, it has become widely known. And through the story of the camellia’s life, I hope that people will look beyond ‘cute’ to the ecology of this cub.”
Peccaries are pack animals. Eventually, they will begin to be matched with their parents and live together when Tsubaki becomes an adult.
After leaving the old world, peccaries headed for the new continent. The journey must have been tough and difficult. The mother gives birth while standing, and the cubs stand up within minutes of birth and walk behind their mother within an hour or two. This makes them a species that has adapted to migration without a nest. (*1)
They have targeted their superior sense of smell and sense of community and arrived at a place where they can survive. We hope that you will also consider the background of their evolution through the many hardships they have endured.
Andrew Lyall-Watson, “Thinking Pig THE WHOLE HOG” (translated by Shinichi Fukuoka), Kirakusha (2009)
1) p100,110 2) p100 (Packard 1981)
Interview and text： Shoko Sugiura (former clinical veterinarian) Photography： Koichi Kikuchi