Two newborn Chacoan peccaries explore their enclosure at the Prague zoo in the Czech Republic. The zoo says the peccaries’ birth was a first for the zoo and a welcome step in efforts to save a species. (Petr Hamernik/Zoo Praha via AP)

Two Chacoan peccaries have been born at the zoo in Prague, Czech Republic, for the first time, a vital step in efforts to save an endangered species that was once considered extinct.

The Chacoan peccary is a wild piglike mammal whose existence was described in 1930 based on fossils that dated to the Pleistocene epoch.

In the early 1970s a small population was discovered in the isolated Gran Chaco area on the border of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Because of overhunting, deforestation and disease, the population of several thousand has been shrinking, prompting European zoos to launch a program for its survival.

In Europe, so far only Berlin’s Tierpark zoo has managed to regularly breed them. One was born in the Planckendael zoo, outside of Brussels, Belgium.

There are 37 Chacoan peccaries in seven European zoos.

U.S. zoos have been involved in the species’ survival longer than those in Europe. In the United States, the animal can be seen at zoos in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco (all in California), Chicago, Illinois; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Norristown, Pennsylvania. Two Chacoan peccaries were born last April at the Los Angeles Zoo.