SEATTLE ‒ Get ready for warts and all, rooting, dusting, and wallowing when some mighty fine swine headline Woodland Park Zoo this summer, presented by U.S. Bank and The Seattle Times. African warthogs, the wild pigs of the savanna, and critically endangered Visayan warty pigs, the punk rockers of the pig world native to central Philippines, will make their public appearance on May 5.
Domestic pigs have for many years been a crowd-pleaser at the zoo’s Family Farm, but the debut of the two new pig species will mark the first time that wild pigs will join the zoo.
Wild pigs live in highly social groups called sounders. A 1-year-old brother and sister from Zoo Atlanta will make up the sounder of warthogs at Woodland Park Zoo. The exhibit will take visitors to the moist and arid savannas of East Africa and is a part of the 4.5-acre, award-winning African Savanna that offers sweeping views dotted with giraffe, hippos, patas monkeys and lions.
The sounder of Visayan warty pigs, a 9-year-old and two 3-year-old females from Los Angeles Zoo, will make their home in a broadleaf tropical forest landscape that evokes the endangered species’ fragile habitat in the Philippines. The exhibit is located in the award-winning Elephant Forest near the elephant pool.
Warthogs jumped to fame when the character Pumbaa endeared itself to fans of Disney’s “The Lion King.” The animals earned their name from the large facial warts on each side of their tusks. “Warthogs are a common sight on the African savanna. They have long legs to escape predators and often are spotted sprinting very fast with their tails sticking straight up like little flagpoles,” noted Martin Ramirez, a mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.
Visayan warty pigs’ distinctive head tufts resemble a punk hairdo gelled with hair product. The punk look is even more prominent during breeding season when males erect both tuft and mane for a larger, impressive appearance.
In the wild, Visayan warty pigs have lost more than 95 percent of its forested range to logging and agriculture, are hunted for their meat and are killed by farmers as crop-raiding pests. According to Ramirez, only 12 institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) exhibit the species. “Bringing Visayan warty pigs to the zoo gives us an amazing opportunity to introduce to our guests this animal whose status in the wild is so fragile and shed light on the important conservation efforts underway to help the population recover,” said Ramirez.
Keeper chats and hands-on activities focused on warty pigs and warthogs will be offered throughout the summer and are free with zoo admission.
Woodland Park Zoo is grateful to the following private supporters for bringing the warthogs and warty pigs to the zoo: Lily Pointe Family Foundation, True Family, an anonymous donor, Wild at Heart annual donors and zoo members.
The Visayan warty pigs and warthogs were sent to the zoo under a recommendation by the Species Survival Plan for both species. The zoo participates in 72 SSPs sponsored by AZA. Led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, conservation and genetics, AZA-accredited institutions manage each species as one population in North America to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the population and the health of individual animals.
Woodland Park Zoo’s summer hours and programs kick off on May 1: 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily. Zoo admission May 1-September 30: Adult (13-64) id="mce_marker"7.75; Child (3-12) id="mce_marker"1.50 Free for children 2 and under year round. Active and retired U.S. military and their families, seniors and people with disabilities receive a discount and zoo members receive free zoo admission year round.
For more information or to become a zoo member, visit www.zoo.org. Or call 206.548.2500 or 548.2599 (TTY).