A 'sounder' of warty pigs sporting punk hairdos coming to Seattle zoo

A 'sounder' of warty pigs sporting punk hairdos coming to Seattle zoo

Credit: www.zoo.org

African warthog

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by SUSAN WYATT / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 11:46 AM

SEATTLE - Woodland Park Zoo will welcome some "mighty fine swine" to the zoo this summer. African warthogs, the wild pigs of the savanna, and critically endangered Visayan warty pigs, the "punk rockers of the pig world"native to central Philippines, will make their public appearance on May 5.

The debut of the two new pig species will mark the first time that wild pigs will join the zoo.

The Zoo says wild pigs live in highly social groups called sounders. A 1-year-old brother and sister from Zoo Atlanta will make up the sounder of warthogs at Woodland Park Zoo. The exhibit will take visitors to the moist and arid savannas of East Africa and is a part of the 4.5-acre, award-winning African Savanna that offers sweeping views dotted with giraffe, hippos, patas monkeys and lions.

The sounder of Visayan warty pigs, a 9-year-old and two 3-year-old females from Los Angeles Zoo, will make their home in a broadleaf tropical forest landscape that evokes the endangered species’ fragile habitat in the Philippines. The exhibit is located in the award-winning Elephant Forest near the elephant pool.

Warthogs jumped to fame when the character Pumbaa endeared itself to fans of Disney’s “The Lion King.” The animals earned their name from the large facial warts on each side of their tusks.

Warthogs are a common sight on the African savanna. They have long legs to escape predators and often are spotted sprinting very fast with their tails sticking straight up like little flagpoles,” noted Martin Ramirez, a mammal curator at Woodland Park Zoo.

Visayan warty pigs’ distinctive head tufts resemble a punk hairdo gelled with hair product. The punk look is even more prominent during breeding season when males erect both tuft and mane for a larger, impressive appearance.

In the wild, Visayan warty pigs have lost more than 95 percent of its forested range to logging and agriculture, are hunted for their meat and are killed by farmers as crop-raiding pests.

“Bringing Visayan warty pigs to the zoo gives us an amazing opportunity to introduce to our guests this animal whose status in the wild is so fragile and shed light on the important conservation efforts underway to help the population recover,” said Ramirez.

Keeper chats and hands-on activities focused on warty pigs and warthogs will be offered throughout the summer and are free with zoo admission.

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