PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The pig population has increased from zero to three, at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.
Dr. Ginger Sturgeon, director of animal health, says the Visayan warty pigs were born at the San Diego Zoo. She listed them by name:
“We have Pearl, she’s a 9-year-old female. Then, we have Dakila and Calaya, they are both 8-year-old females.”
With long snouts, black fur, and Mohawks peppered with white, they like to ham it up, now and then.
“They’re very inquisitive animals,” Dr. Sturgeon adds. “And what’s fun about them is they like to play on dry land, they like to play in a mud wallow. They also are known to swim. So we’re going to have a nice big pool for them on exhibit.”
Meanwhile, work continues on a new exhibit area called “The Islands,” which will include the pigs and four other endangered species.
“The Islands features five different waterfalls, all the way around an island space,” says zoo president Barbara Baker. “The visitors are able to get all around that space as well, to see the animals at all different levels.”
Warty pigs hail from the Vasayan Islands in the Philippines, where their population is critically endangered by loss of forest habitat.
“Ninety-five percent of the population has now gone extinct,” Dr. Sturgeon says. “So they are an animal that we really want to conserve the species.”
To help counter the trend, the zoo hopes to introduce a male in the fall. As for eating, these are very picky pigs.
“These ladies are a bit particular,” says their keeper. “The main part of their diet is root vegetables: carrots, turnips, sweet potatoes. Anything that’s grown in the ground, that’s what they eat. And then they supplement their diet with Timothy Hay and different lettuces.”
No word on whether they take their dressing on the side.