Battle of the pigs: Pick your favourite hog
Clever, cute and full of character, the pig species at London and Whipsnade are some of the coolest from across the world – but who has the best? Which zoo has the prettiest pig, or the hippest hog? We put it to our zookeepers to champion their favourite species. Now it’s time for you to decide!
Red river hogs
“If you’re hunting for the prettiest pig, look no further. Red river hogs have incredible facial markings and long tufty ears that make them look like wizards or elves. And they’re not all about looks either – red river hogs have really, really strong jaws that they use to break open one of their favourite foods, walnuts. But what makes working with pigs so fun, and red river hogs in particular, is how clever they are. Our red river hogs are trained to come to the sound of a bell, and we’ve even trained our dominant male, Pedro, to let us give him a piggy pedicure. One of the toenails on his back legs grows at a funny angle and would be uncomfortable if we didn’t give it a regular trim.”
Hannah Joy, Hoof Stock Keeper, London Zoo
Visayan warty pigs
“Step aside Elvis, the real king of the quiff is in town! Visayan warty pigs get their name from three lumps (or warts) on their face that help protect them when fighting, but their real distinguishing feature is the beautiful mane that flops over their ears. During the mating season these extraordinary hairdos will grow even longer and males will compete over who has the best quiff. Visayan warty pigs are only found on the Visayan Archipelago, a small group of islands in the Philippines, and there are thought to be fewer than 200 left in the wild – which makes our three (Pixie, Tessa and Manny) extra special to care for and conserve.”
Gracie Gee, Trainee Keeper, Whipsnade Zoo
“There’s no cooler pig than the iconic babirusa. Babirusa are found in Indonesia and are famous for the male’s tusks, which grow upwards through the top jaw and out the skin on the top of their snout. The tusks curl back towards the skull and can pierce the brain if the males don’t constantly grind them down by digging and fighting (ouch!). Despite their formidable appearance, babirusa are incredibly playful and affectionate. Our two, Budiman and Bethari, spin in circles when they’re happy, make barks and yips of excitement and even wag their tails. And – fun fact – babirusa like to fart a lot and will often let off an appreciative trump during a back scratch. It might sound gross, but babirusa actually have two-chambered stomachs to help digest their food (a bit like cows). Better out than in I say!”
Conor Darke, Apprentice Keeper, London Zoo
“Wild boar have it all – strength, speed and size. It’s partly for these reasons that wild boars are one of the most widely-spread mammals in the world. They’re thought to have originated in Southeast Asia but, over the millennia, they have spread to Europe, Africa and North America. True globe trotters! Being so widespread does come with its challenges though – wild boar have to contend with tigers, lions, wolves and bears, and use their massive size and powerful tusks to defend themselves. Don’t be fooled though, wild boar also have their soft side and our pair, Otis and Wilma, love to interact with their keepers. Wild boar also have the cutest babies you will ever see – they’re born with reddish and brown stripes, just like a mint humbug!”
Madelaine Dunlop, Apprentice Keeper, Whipsnade Zoo
Follow us on Facebook for the chance to pick your favourite pig and much much more!
Gold members, Fellows and Patrons receive articles like this one three times a year in our Wild About magazine. To get your paws on the next edition, and to visit our penguins as often as you like, become a Gold Member today.
Select a blog
Our people are our greatest asset and we realise our vision for a world where wildlife thrives through their ideas, skills and passion. An inspired, informed and empowered community of people work, study and volunteer together at ZSL.
At ZSL, a key area of our work is the employment of Nature-based Solutions – an approach which both adapt to and mitigates the impacts of climate change. These Solutions, which include habitat protection and restoration, are low-cost yet high-impact, and provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife. We ensure that biodiversity recovery is at the heart of nature-based solutions.
A blog for lovers of ZSL London Zoo, bringing you extraordinary animal facts and exclusive access to the world's oldest scientific zoo.
Do you love wildlife? Discover more about our amazing animals at the UK's biggest zoo!
We're working around the world to conserve animals and their habitats, find out more about our latest achievements.
From the field to the lab, catch up with the scientists on the cutting edge of conservation biology at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology.
A day in Discovery and Learning at ZSL is never dull! The team tell us all about the exciting sessions for school children, as well as work further afield.
Every month, one of the pieces held in ZSL’s Library and at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo will feature here as Artefact of the Month.
Read testimonials from our Members and extracts from ZSL's award winning members' magazine, Wild About.
ZSL works across Asia, from the famous national parks of Nepal to marine protected areas in the Philippines. Read the latest updates on our conservation.
An Open Access journal for research at the interface of remote sensing, ecology and conservation.