Did you know pigs liked to have their tummies tickled?! Keeper Jessica Jones introduces us to some of the residents of Animal Adventure and explains why training is so important.
Kune kune pigs
People often underestimate animals that are quite familiar to them, but pigs are fascinating and very clever animals! Kune kunes are a domestic pig from New Zealand and were on the verge of extinction a few decades back, until people got together and started a breeding programme.
We have three kune kune pigs at the Zoo – Kiri, Arona and Reka. Out of the three of them, Kiri is definitely the boss, whereas Arona is the sweetest and tends to like her own company. They all have some things in common though – one of their favourite foods is sweet potato and they love to have their tummies tickled! They roll over, a bit like a dog does.
Our pigs are trained to go for walks without a harness on, target trained and they even sit down on cue! More importantly with all the training we do we are able to carry out health checks on our pigs. We’re able to weigh them, check their ears and eyes, and they also open their mouths so we can check their teeth.
Pigs have poor eye sight, so we can’t use hand gestures as part of the training, but they have a great sense of smell to make up for it. And because they’re so smart, they pick things up quickly, and it only takes around a week to train them.
We regularly walk our pigs around the Zoo, so look out for them on your next visit!
Llamas have been domesticated for thousands of years and have some ingenious adaptions to help them cope in tough conditions. They’re great at conserving water, and they have a split top lip so they can even catch and drink the mucus that drips from their nose!
We have three llamas in Animal Adventure – Dainty and son Ande, and Tiggy.
I have a particular soft spot for Ande, who’s just turned five years old. One of my most memorable moments at the Zoo was the day he was born. We’d only weighed mum Dainty that morning and she wasn’t showing any signs of going into labour. But while I was having lunch with the team, we got a call to say that she was giving birth! We all ran down to watch, and it was a very special moment to see Ande take his first steps.
Ande is very cheeky and likes to be centre of attention! He’s harness trained and, because he’s nosey, he loves to explore so we take him on regular walks around the Zoo. This is great exercise for him, and gives him the chance to eat grass and different vegetation that we have across the Zoo.
It's important for all of our llamas to be trained to aid health checks. They’re able to go into an individual area separately where they have their breakfast bucket, and this means that we can weigh them and give them injections if needed.
On a sunny day, look out for eight-year-old Tiggy who loves to sunbathe!
We also have two donkeys – Clyde and Acer. They’re both quite bossy with each other, but Acer’s learnt to be sneaky. He’ll wait until he thinks no one’s looking before he’s naughty!
Enrichment is important for our animals, and our donkeys love playing with their scented boomer balls. They also like to go out and about on walks around the Zoo.
If they’re not out on their walks, you can find our kune kune pigs, llamas and donkeys in Animal Adventure. And you can see more of our residents showcasing their incredible skills in our daily events, like Animals in Action and Super Species Live!
Learn more about Animal Adventure
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.