Battle of the pigs: Pick your favourite hog

by ZSL on

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

Red River Hogs at London Zoo
“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
Visayan warty pigs at Whipsnade Zoo
“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

 

Babirusa

Babirusa at London 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

Wild Boar at Whipsnade 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

 

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