Chester Zoo has announced the birth of a Visayan warty pig, one of the world’s rarest breeds of pigs with as few as 200 of them remaining in the wild, just in time for Christmas.
The male piglet arrived to mother Gwen and father Tre on November 16, joining a family of five. The forest-dwelling pigs are listed as critically endangered by the International Union of Conservation for Nature (IUCN).
“It’s fantastic to see the birth of any animal, but when they’re critically endangered and fighting for survival in the wild, it makes it even more special,” said Mark Brayshaw, curator of mammals at Chester Zoo.
“Baby piglets are incredibly energetic and playful, and so the whole group will certainly be kept very busy over the coming months,” Brayshaw said.
Visayan warty piglet at Chester Zoo
Originally from the Philippines, Visayan warty pigs reside in small social groups and communicate by squeaking, grunting and chirruping. After taking their mother’s milk for up to six months, these piglets eat roots, forest fruits, cereal and vegetable crops.
Chester Zoo was the UK’s first zoo to care for Visayan warty pigs, found in the rainforest on the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines. Little is known about the species, with very few behavioural studies carried out in the wild.
“Visayan warty pigs aren’t just your average pig,” Brayshaw said. “During breeding season, males develop a long, protruding mane from their head, giving them a mohawk-like hairstyle.”
“Both mum Gwen and dad Tre are named after punk rockers Gwen Stefani and Tre Cool as a result of this iconic look, and I’m sure it won’t be long until we’ve decided a suitable name to follow in that tradition.”
“Every piglet is a vital addition to the breeding programme and will help champion the plight of this fascinating, charismatic species,” he added.
Images: Chester Zoo