Pigs & Warthogs

What's In a Name? Ask These Babirusa Piglets

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Ginger and Ivy, two rare Babirusa piglets born at the Audubon Zoo, recently made their public debut. The piglets are the third litter born at Audubon Zoo to mom Betty and dad Wrigley.

Born October 14, the piglets’ names have significance:  Ivy gets her name from the foliage which adorns the walls of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. The theme started with dad Wrigley and continued with the two of the newborns' siblings - Clark and Addison - who are named after two streets that intersect outside the ballpark.

The choice of Ginger is simpler: It's a favorite browse treat of Audubon Zoo's Babirusa family.

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Babirusapiglets5098Photo Credit:  Audubon Zoo



Audubon Zoo, which has produced eight Babirusa piglets since 2005, is one of the few facilities in the United States that exhibit this species.  The zoo participates in the Babirusa Species Survival Plan in partnership with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums members.

Babirusa are found primarily on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi north of Borneo. Even though Babirusa are a protected species, they are threatened in the wild due to illegal hunting and habitat loss.

Babirusa are omnivores and will eat fruits, nuts, leaves, small invertebrates, birds, and even turtles in the wild. Males typically have two sets of tusks, one on the lower jaw and one that grows from the top jaw through the top of the snout towards the head. Babirusa means "pig deer'' in the native Malay language. One theory posits that the Sulawesi people gave the Babirusa this moniker because its large canines are similar in appearance to deer antlers.

Like most pigs, Babirusa enjoy wallowing in mud, which helps protect their skin from insect bites and the tropical sun. Babirusa are excellent swimmers and very intelligent, social animals who enjoy interaction with animal care staff, particularly when training.

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Newborn Babirusa Caught on Camera

Babirusa piglet and mum Kendari (11)

Hidden cameras show a rare newborn Babirusa piglet snuggling with and nursing from its mother at the Chester Zoo in the video below.  Babirusas are one of the rarest pig species in the world.

The tiny male piglet, named Bukaan, was born to Kendari, age four, following a five-month-long pregnancy.  They have spent several months bonding behind the scenes and have only recently been released into their habitat.

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Babirusa piglet and mum Kendari (5)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo



Babirusas live on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where their numbers have plummeted to an estimated 5,000 individuals. The species was once common, but hunting for their meat and destruction of their habitat led to their disappearance from some areas of Sulawesi. 

Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at the zoo, said, “When Kendari’s new piglet grows up he will sport a face full of twisted tusks, a large wet snout, warts and will be almost completely hairless, just like his dad, Sausu. But looks aren’t everything! This species is incredibly special and he’s ever such as important new arrival.  Babirusas are under huge pressure in Sulawesi. They’re vulnerable to extinction and Kendari’s latest piglet is a significant addition to the world’s population.” 

Zoos serve an increasingly important role as species are put at risk in the wild.  Only a handful of zoos worldwide have successfully bred Babirusas, and the offspring will play a key role in the long term conservation of the species.  Chester Zoo also supports efforts in Indonesia to preserve these rare animals.

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“It’s the Great Pumpkin…!”

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Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns are indicative of the fall season…and Halloween.

Zoo Keepers work hard to keep their animals healthy and happy. Enrichment toys and activities are an important tool that Keepers utilize to help in that pursuit. Enrichment items encourage natural behavior and stimulate the senses…and what could be more stimulating, this time of year, than celebrating by tearing into a bright orange pumpkin!

Happy Halloween from ZooBorns!

2_Red pandas Jung and Nima get into the Halloween spirit at Chester Zoo on Pumpkin Day

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Image 1: (Lynx) Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Muller

Image 2: “Red Pandas, Jung and Nima, get into the Halloween spirit”/ Chester Zoo

Image 3: (Snow leopard) Woodland Park Zoo

Image 4: (Amur Tiger) Woburn Safari Park

Image 5: Piglets-in-a-pumpkin/ Tierpark Berlin

Image 6: “Andean Bear, Bernie, tucks into honey-coated treats”/ Chester Zoo

Image 7: “Black Jaguar, Goshi, enjoys and early treat”/ Chester Zoo

Images 8, 9: Elephant Pumpkin Stomp/ Denver Zoo

Image 10: (Chimpanzee)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 11: (Bison)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 12: (Giraffe “Mpenzi”)/ Detroit Zoo/ Jennie Miller

Image 13: (Hippo)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 14: (Tiger)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

Image 15: (Maned Wolf)/ Woodland Park Zoo/ Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren

More adorable Halloween pics, below the fold!

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Endangered Piglets Born at Brevard Zoo

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On September 10, a 14-year-old Visayan Warty Pig, at Brevard Zoo, gave birth to two piglets.

The new mom, named Fancy, was born at San Diego Zoo but has spent most of her life at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida. She currently shares her exhibit with two adult pigs: male, Pandan, and female, Makinna. Pandan is the father of the new piglets.

Because their exhibit is closed until next year for renovations, guests will not be able to view the piglets for several months. However, the Zoo promises to keep fans updated with plenty of pictures and videos on social media. The sex of the piglets is not known, and therefore, the duo has not been named.

“Zoo guests often mistake them for domestic pigs or wild boars,” said Michelle Smurl, Director of Animal Programs. “But they’re actually members of a distinct species on the brink of extinction.”

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3_160916015Photo Credits: Brevard Zoo

The Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons) is a species endemic to two of the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines.

They are threatened by habitat loss, hunting and conflicts with farmers. Hybridization with domestic pigs has caused further problems. Once found across six islands, populations are now believed to exist on only two. Visayan Warty Pigs are classified as “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Due to the small numbers of remaining species in the wild, little is known of their behaviors or characteristics outside of captivity.

The Visayan Warty Pig receives its name from the three pairs of fleshy "warts" present on their visage. Experts speculate that the reason for the warts is to assist as a defense against the tusks of rival pigs during fighting. The boars also grow stiff hair.

Visayan Warty Pigs tend to live in groups of four to six. Their diet mainly consists of: roots, tubers, and fruits that can be found in the forest. They may also eat cultivated crops. Since local farmers have cleared approximately 95% of their natural habitat, the propensity of the pigs to eat cultivated crops has risen dramatically. Also, land that is cleared for farming is often unproductive for a few years. Therefore, the food sources of the Visayan Warty Pig are extremely limited, a factor that has contributed significantly to the pig’s dwindling numbers.

Visayan Warty Piglets are often seen during the dry season, between the months of January and March, in their native habitat of the western Visayan Islands. The average number of piglets, per litter, is three to four.


Black and White… and Wiggly All Over

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A Miniature Pig named Jolly became a first time mother on August 14, at Zoo Basel. Jolly gave birth to eight wiggly Piglets: four males and four females. Despite her lack of experience, Jolly’s instincts have been spot-on, and she is a very attentive mother.

Before the birth, Zoo Basel staff made note of Jolly spending an entire day attending to her nest, focusing on arranging the thick bed of straw. Her Piglets arrived at night, and the keepers found the happy little family the next morning.

Sire, Jack, is an experienced father and has a lot of offspring. For many years, he formed a successful breeding pair with female, Jill. Unfortunately, Jill died after an emergency C-section in the spring of 2015. His new pairing with Jolly has been, obviously, successful.

Jack will have to wait a bit until he is allowed an introduction to his newest offspring. In the first days, the females defend their Piglets strongly and do not let the father in the straw bed. However, there is no worry, as Jack is always very interested in his offspring. According to keepers, he has been known to patiently let his Piglets play and crawl on his belly.

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4_14054588_1111448372226235_2036358012072464082_oPhoto Credits: Zoo Basel

The young Mini Pigs at Zoo Basel will remain in the stable of the children’s zoo for their first few weeks of life. They will gradually be introduced to the daily visit to the outdoor enclosure.

The Miniature Pig (also Mini Pig, Micro Pig, or Teacup Pig) Sus scrofa domesticusis is a breed that weighs between 60 pounds (27 kg) and 300 pounds (140 kg) when fully grown.

They were first used for medical research in Europe before being introduced to the United States in the 1980s. Since then, the animals have been used in studies by scientists around the world, and have also risen in popularity as companion animals.

A Mini Pig’s diet consists mainly of vegetables, fodder, hay, and straw. Gestation for a female lasts about a total of three months, three weeks, and three days. Litters generally occur with anywhere from six to twelve Piglets. Life expectancy is estimated to be around 20 - 30 years.

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Piglets Make Mischief at Zoo Basel

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Just a few weeks old, six Wild Boars born March 11 at Zoo Basel constantly play, romp, gallop, and make mischief together.

The piglets haven’t stopped since they came out of their den a few weeks after birth.  According to keepers, the piglets run excitedly around their enclosure, then flee to the safety of their mothers if they fear any danger.  Speaking of danger, the piglets will even climb recklessly on their snout of their sleeping father, a huge male Wild Boar.  Dad makes it clear he does not like this, but the piglets persist in their play.

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Wildschwein_jungtiere_ZO26939Photo Credit:  Zoo Basel

Litters of young Wild Boars nurse for four to five months and develop a "suckling order" after a few weeks:  every piglet competes for its own teat, with the good positions at the back taken by the stronger offspring. The easily-digestible milk means that the young nearly double their birth weight in just two weeks.

With striped coats, the piglets can easily blend into their wooded surroundings.  By the time they are six months old, the piglets take on the black coloration of adult Wild Boars. 

Native to much of Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, Wild Boars are the most wide-ranging mammals in the world.  In the early 20th century, some populations were nearly eradicated, but Wild Boars have recovered most of their original range.  Wild Boars have been introduced in North America, South America, Australia, and other areas.

See more pics of the piglets below.

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Tierpark Berlin Shares a Secret…Don’t Squeal!

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Djamila, the Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pig, hit lucky number 7 with the birth of her litter. The piglets arrived January 27 at Tierpark Berlin.

The farrow has been happily confined to their stable, where it is warm and cozy. Except for the occasional squeak or wriggle, the piglets are content to stay close to mom, for now.

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4_csm_Haengebauchschweine_Tierpark_Berlin_2016__10__5946037c73Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Djamila is a ‘native’ Berliner and was born at the Zoo in 2011. The Tierpark Berlin introduced this dwarf breed to Europe in 1958.

The Pot-bellied Pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) is a domesticated pig originating in Vietnam. Considerably smaller than standard American or European farm pigs, adults can weigh about 43 to 136 kg (100 to 300 lb).

Pot-bellied Pigs are considered fully-grown by six years of age, when the epiphyseal plates in the long bones of the legs finally close.

Because Pot-bellied Pigs are the same species as ordinary farmyard pigs and wild boars, they are capable of interbreeding. However, a 2004 study revealed extreme genetic diversity in indigenous Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pigs. They were also genetically different from each other according to location of origin in Vietnam.

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These Little Piggies. . .Were Born at the Odense Zoo

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Denmark’s Odense Zoo welcomed five Miniature Pig babies on November 20.  The Piglets are thriving under the care of their mother, and are getting accustomed to their home in the zoo’s farmhouse.

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10835297_10152853438769647_6364185212782523283_oPhoto Credit:  Odense Zoo

Miniature Pigs are popular as pets or on small farms, and though they can weigh up to 200 pounds as adults, are far smaller than a typical domestic pig.  Pigs are intelligent animals and can be house-trained and to perform behaviors. 

Like all Pigs, Miniature Pigs have an excellent sense of smell.  They use their stubby snouts to dig for roots and tubers, and will also feed on a variety of plant material and small animals.

See more photos of the Piglets below.

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Rare Warty Piglet Born at Chester Zoo

WartyPig-14One of the world’s rarest wild Pigs has been born at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo.  Only about 200 Visayan Warty Pigs remain in their native habitat in the Philippines.

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WartyPig-11Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo

The baby, whose gender is not yet known, sports yellow and brown stripes which act as camouflage.  The stripes will disappear at around 9-12 months.

Zoo keeper Lucy Edwards said, “Visayan Warty Pigs are critically endangered and face an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild."

“They’ve suffered a drastic population crash in recent times with widespread commercial logging, illegal logging and agricultural expansion devastating vast amounts of their natural habitat. They’re also being over-hunted and their meat can often command at least double the price of domestic pork in local markets and some restaurants.”

These wild Pigs get their name from the three pairs of fleshy warts on the boar's face. The warts protect them from rival Pigs' tusks during a fight.

Visayan Warty Pigs are small, forest-dwelling Pigs that feed on roots, fruits, and some cultivated crops.  Little is known about their wild habits.  They are found only in the small patches of remaining forest on the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines.

Chester Zoo’s latest arrival is vitally important to the breeding program which seeks to maintain a genetically viable population of Visayan Warty Pigs in zoos around Europe.  The zoo also provides financial assistance for an education and breeding program in the Philippines.


African Red River Hog Piglets Are a First for Zoo Miami

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Zoo Miami is celebrating the birth of five African Red River Hogs! The three males and two females were born on February 28 and are the first of this species ever born at Zoo Miami. 

The first-time mother, three-year-old Penny, was born at the Oklahoma City Zoo. The first-time father is two-year-old Baloo, who was born at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The mother and her piglets are presently separated from the rest of the group and will remain off-exhibit for a little while until the staff feel that mother and babies have bonded well and are secure with their surroundings.  Penny is being an excellent mother and is very attentive to the piglets. 

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1 hogPhoto credit: Zoo Miami

See and read more after the fold!

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