South American Trail

Head South of the Border to see the world’s smallest deer, a pair of playful Andean bears, a trio of Chacoan peccaries, and a flock of thick-billed parrots. Facing the increased deforestation of the forests where they live, all four species are endangered.

What To See and Do

Meet miniatures.
Standing only 14 to 18 inches high at the shoulder, and weighing 14­­ to 30 pounds, pudu are the smallest deer species.

Go hog wild.
With their long spiked coats, our three Chacoan peccaries, Walker, Palito, and Chili, look a bit like punk-rock pigs. In fact, peccaries are known for being skilled forest engineers.

Excuse the bear PDA.
Cisco and Spangles sitting in a tree…Actually, Andean bears do nest in trees—so look up if you can’t find them on the ground.

Flock to the Sierra Madres.
From the window of a log cabin, look out onto a pine forest that serves as a recreation of our thick-billed parrots’ Mexican mountain home.

Spy on the nests.
Often found in pairs, these affectionate birds preen each other’s feathers and chatter away.

Wild Connections

With a wild population numbering only about 2,400, spectacled bears are one of the most endangered bear species in the world. The Zoo’s residents are part of a Species Survival Plan—a cooperative breeding program that helps to maintain healthy populations of the bears in zoos throughout the U.S. Queens Zookeeper David Morales has spent time in the bears’ native Andean habitat to research their wild kin. He and WCS conservation biologist Isaac Goldstein have developed new ideas to enrich the Queens Zoo’s bear habitat, such as the addition of a tree nest.

Thick-billed parrots are accustomed to hollowing out and nesting in burrows in the big pine trees of the Sierra Madres. As excessive logging infringes on their habitat, Wildlife Conservation Society field staff help the birds relocate to safer trees by starting new nests and burrows. The zoo’s parrot aviary offers both real and fabricated trees with nest boxes to accommodate the picky housekeepers. The naturalistic habitat and the zoo’s breeding plan for the birds—also part of the Species Survival Plan—are helping to preserve a vital population of this last living parrot species native to the United States.