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Zoo Atlanta Welcomes Patagonian Maras

Lilo and Stitch are the newest additions to the Zoo’s complement of South American wildlife.

Zoo Atlanta welcomes a new mammal species to its animal population: Lilo and Stitch the Patagonian maras. Female Lilo, 4, and male Stitch, 2, arrived at Zoo Atlanta on December 9, 2019.

Although they are rabbit-like in appearance, with long legs and large ears, Patagonian maras are rodents and are among the larger members of the order Rodentia. Adults are 24 to 32 inches long and weigh 16 to 20 pounds.

The species, which is also known as the Patagonian cavy or Patagonian hare, is native to the Pampas biome in central and south Argentina. Currently classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Patagonian mara populations are declining and becoming fragmented. Their primary threats include habitat loss for agriculture, hunting for their skins and competition with introduced herbivores.

“We are always excited to introduce a new species at Zoo Atlanta. A key aspect of our mission is to inspire value of and appreciation for our planet’s biodiversity in all its many forms,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “This is an especial opportunity when a new species is one with which our Members and guests may be less familiar. We look forward to introducing our visitors to Lilo and Stitch and the important ecosystem they represent.”

Lilo and Stitch are currently exploring the large corner habitat adjacent to Zoo Atlanta’s Complex Carnivores zone and are the newest additions to the Zoo’s population of South American species. Others include but are not limited to Chilean flamingos, giant otters, golden lion tamarins, Hoffmann’s two-toed sloths, Huacaya alpacas and king vultures.

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