By Lauren Kraft, Public Relations Coordinator
A first in the Sacramento Zoo’s 83-year history, the Zoo welcomed three newborn Red river hogs on the morning of July 16, 2010. On the morning of the birth, the Zoo keeper checked in on Daisy, the mother, and found the three young piglets already nursing and squirming around the den. One male and two female piglets are gaining weight every day and growing quickly. Mother and babies will be out on exhibit soon, maybe as early as later this week. In the meantime they are in the den, away from public view, until the piglets are strong enough to maneuver around the exhibit.
“The piglets are being well taken care of by their mother at this time,” said General Curator, Harrison Edell. “The father, who has been housed separately for the time being to allow the sow to bond with her piglets, will be reintroduced soon, since boars of this species often spend a great deal of time helping the mother care for piglets.”
The Sacramento Zoo started exhibiting Red river hogs in 2009. Daisy is from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, and the male, J.D., is from the Bronx Zoo. On the morning of July 12th, the Sacramento Zoo confirmed the pregnancy of the female Red river hog, Daisy during an ultrasound performed in the Zoo’s Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital.
At birth red river hogs weigh about two pounds. When full grown, they’ll weigh between 120 and 264 pounds and reach three to five feet in length. Males grow to be slightly larger than females and have a large bony protuberance on each side of their snout. Until about three months of age, piglets are brown with yellowish stripes. This coloring serves as effective camouflage.
Swine have an excellent sense of smell and a squared-off snout for digging. They also have great hearing and communicate with one another using a variety of grunts, squeaks, and chirrups. Red river hogs are best known for their long curly ears and reddish-brown fur. Native to the dense tropical jungles of Central to West Africa, Red river hog populations are in serious decline due to hunting for food and sport; Sacramento Zoo’s participation in a carefully managed breeding program for this species will contribute directly to the species’ long term survival.