Jacksonville Zoo Keepers Are in ‘Hog Heaven’
June 07, 2017
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is excited to announce the birth of four Warthog piglets on May 11. Two males and two females were born to first-time parents Chico and Acacia.
Father, Chico, was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in 2011 and was also in a litter of four piglets. Acacia arrived at the Zoo in 2016 on a pairing arranged through the Species Survival Plan (SSP).
According to keepers, Chico and Acacia spent a few weeks getting to know each other, from the other side of some fencing, and were immediately showing positive interactions. Within minutes of being together for the first time, it was obvious the Zoo had a “love connection”. Keepers did not witness any breeding behavior after that first introduction back in November, which is a good indication that the breeding was successful.
The new litter of piglets received a check-up from Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Yousuf Jafarey, and Veterinary Nurse, Dewey Maddox, when they were less than 24 hours old. Vet staff gave the litter a clean bill of health, and they were delighted to find the male piglets already have cute little warts. All four siblings were born with tiny tusks.
Tony Vecchio (the Zoo's "pig aficionado"):
Photo Credits: Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens
The little ones have been spending quiet time with mom, Acacia, with occasional outings into the side yard of the Warthog enclosure. They are expected to make their debut into the main Warthog yard within the next two weeks.
Executive Director, Tony Vecchio (a self-described ‘pig aficionado’), is over the moon and eagerly expressed his excitement: “Piglets! What could be a better way for children around town to start their summer vacations than coming out and seeing our Warthog piglets?”
Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) are African hogs and members of the same family as domestic pigs.
Although their appearance would suggest a species with ferocious tendencies, they are basically grazers that eat grasses and plants. They also use their snouts to dig or “root” for roots or bulbs. When startled or threatened, they can run at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.
Their large, flat heads are covered with warts (protective bumps). When faced with a threat, they prefer “flight” as apposed to “fight”, and they will hastily search for such a den to use as a hiding place. They retreat into the den rear-first, enabling them to use their prolific tusks to guard the entrance.
Warthogs are currently classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.