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Then There Were Three…Little Pigs at Riverbanks

For Immediate Release: March 14, 2013

Zoo Welcomes Baby Babirusa to the Family

[Columbia, SC] — Guests visiting Riverbanks Zoo and Garden this weekend will have an opportunity to see the Zoo’s newest addition—a two-week-old female babirusa.

The baby babirusa is the first offspring of parents Wilma and Bertello and the first of its species to be born at Riverbanks.

"Right now, we are still introducing the newborn to its exhibit,” said John Davis, curator of mammals at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "The process is going very smoothly, and with the weather warming up we hope to have her out on exhibit daily in the coming weeks.”

Wilma and Bertello were matched up in February of last year based on the breeding recommendations of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Babirusa Species Survival Plan. After a six month adjustment period, the pair was placed on exhibit together last September.

Unlike other pig species that typically have multiple births per litter, babirusas usually only have one or two offspring at a time. Babies will continue to nurse for up to eight months, but begin eating solid food at three to ten days old.

Babirusa is a Maylasian term meaning deer-pig. These exotic, nearly hairless swine have thick, wrinkly skin and elongated legs that allow them to run swiftly like deer. Males can be recognized by their long protruding tusks, while female tusks are shorter and typically not visible.

Babirusas are known to be gifted swimmers. In the wild, they prefer to live in moist, tropical forests and along the shores of rivers and lakes. The species has always been rare, but is now considered vulnerable due to shrinking habitat and over-hunting.

Riverbanks babirusa exhibit is located adjacent to the Zoo’s African Bird Yard.