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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Welcomes Watermelon-Striped Baby Red River Hog

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo keepers were greeted by a brand-new baby Red River hog in the early hours of Fri., Aug. 12. They had suspicions a baby was on the way, and their suspicions were confirmed when they found Red River hog mom, Zena, resting peacefully with her baby, who appears to be in good health.

“We are over the moon with excitement for this little one,” said Lauren Phillippi, lead keeper in African Rift Valley. “Red River hog babies are some of the cutest in the whole animal kingdom with their little stripes, tiny statures and energetic behaviors.”

The little hoglet is about the size of its mom’s snout. Red River hoglets are often described as having a watermelon pattern when they’re born. Just like adult Red River hogs, hoglets have the signature bright orange coats, but the babies also have brown and white stripes that run the length of their bodies, along with little brown and white spots all over. Those stripes and spots usually fade in around six months, but act as important camouflage in the meantime.

Eight-year-old Zena’s keepers say she has embraced her hoglet with all of the key behaviors they want to see from a second-time mom. The baby is nursing regularly, Zena nuzzles and cleans the baby, and the baby gets ‘zoomies’ in the comfort of their indoor den. Red River hoglets are sometimes described as looking like wind-up toys, because they get bursts of energy that send them running circles around their mothers. The baby’s sex has not been identified and likely won’t be for another few weeks. In keeping with CMZoo tradition, the baby likely won’t be named for at least 30 days.

This is Zena’s second hoglet, after Pinto, who was born at CMZoo in April 2021. Zena came to CMZoo on a breeding recommendation with Huey, CMZoo’s 15-year-old male Red River hog. Huey has been a great father to Pinto, and four others. Red River hog fathers, unlike many species, are active in raising their young.


The hoglet made its outdoor debut yesterday (September 2) and met its dad, Huey, for the first time. Huey is a great dad and was comfortable around his new hoglet very quickly. The hoglet also felt comfortable and continually popped underneath Huey and its big sister, Pinto. As a first-time big sister, Pinto was interested in the hoglet and nuzzled it inquisitively with her snout. (Because the hog family is doing well on its own without staff intervention, the sex of the hoglet has not yet been determined.)

Being its first day out in the yard, the hoglet was curious and imitated how the other Red River hogs picked up food, moved things with their snouts, and wallowed. Wallowing is important for temperature control and for keeping insects away. Zena, the hoglet's mom, enjoyed her first wallow since giving birth.

You can find our hoglet and the rest of the family in African Rift Valley next to the giraffe yard.