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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Three little beauties: Visayan warty pigs

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications

Visayan warty pigs in their mud wallow. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
Warty pigs may not have the prettiest name, but we think they are beautiful! If you haven't stopped by the Trail of Vines lately, you should. Our three female pigs are especially active in early spring.

This critically endangered forest pig is found only in the Visayan islands of the Philippines. The relatively small, grayish-brown pigs get their name from three pairs of fleshy “warts” that develop on the cheeks of adult males, but they are best recognized by the white stripe that runs over the bridge of the nose behind the mouth. Mature males also grow a stiff, spiky mane of hair tufts that make them look like the punk-rockers of the pig world.

Hey cutie! Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo
In the wild, Visayan warty pigs used to roam over six different islands of the Philippines, but they’ve lost more than 95% of that habitat due to logging and agriculture. Populations have also dwindled because people hunt them and they come into conflict with farmers as crop-raiding pests. They are only found in remote parts of two islands now. As a result, some local communities and conservationists are coming together to try and protect them from extinction.

There are only a handful of conservation zoos lucky enough to care for these perfectly precious porcines and Woodland Park Zoo is one of them. Our three “little piggies” are all female: a mother and her two daughters. Guapa, which means “beautiful,” is 14 years old. She shares a broadleaf forest exhibit in the zoo’s Tropical Asia area with her 8-year-old daughters, Magdula and Bulak, which mean “playful” and “flower.” All three of them came to Woodland Park Zoo from Los Angeles in 2012 and each of their names reflects the Philippines origin of their species.

Their animal keepers tell us that the girls are all quite social and enjoy grooming each other, scratching against tree trunks and lying in the sun. They’re also quick learners and expert foragers, loving to root around the ground. Their muscular forelimbs and sensitive snouts give them great strength and digging power. They’re even great climbers! In the wild, all these behaviors help Visayan warty pigs forage for a wide variety of foods, such as fruits, roots, tubers and worms. Their diet at Woodland Park Zoo is made up of similar foods including yams, carrots, romaine, alfalfa pellets and spinach—but their keepers say their favorite treats are peanuts and meal worms.

A tisket, a tasket a spring-treat filled basket! Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
When not roaming around their exhibit, the pigs can be found sleeping together in a pile of hay and shavings. We’re told they love to nest and even supplement their bedding by adding extra leaves and sticks to the pile before burying themselves inside. Being the good mom that she is, Guapa often blankets her daughters in the bedding at night, tucking them into the pile before climbing in herself.

We hope you’ll visit Guapa, Magdula and Bulak the next time you visit Trail of Vines. We know you’ll love these clever girls just as much as we do... warts and all!

In the wild, Visayan warty pigs used to roam over six different islands of the Philippines, but they’ve lost more than 95% of that habitat due to logging and agriculture. Photo by Ryan Hawk, Woodland Park Zoo.
Get to know our warty pigs
 GUAPA
Born: April 22, 2003, San Diego Zoo

The dominant pig of the group. Like any good mom, she keeps her daughters in line, chasing, snipping and vocalizing to them when they need to be set straight.

MAGDULA
Born: July 16, 2009, Los Angeles Zoo

Smartest of the girls. She has figured out a way to roll her puzzle feeder against the fence so that it stays in place while dispensing food—while her sister and mother roll theirs along the ground.

BULAK
Born: July 16, 2009, Los Angeles Zoo

Most unique looking of our pigs. She has lighter eyes than the other two and has a narrower face with a black spot in the middle of the white stripe on her nose.

Squeee! Photo by Dennis Dow, Woodland Park Zoo

FUN FACTS

• Pigs live in social groups called sounders, but no, they don’t have scarves.

• Pigs do not sweat and, therefore, need to cool off in mud wallows and water.

• Males grow sharp tusks as they mature, which are actually modified canine teeth.

• Wild pigs all have straight tails; only domestic pigs have curly ones.


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