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Where EAST meets the Northwest

PRECIOUS PIGLET. A rare Visayan warty piglet is seen at the Oregon Zoo’s Island Pigs of Asia habitat. The three-week-old Visayan warty pig — a species considered among the most endangered in the world — was born on June 9, 2016. While adult warty pigs have coarse gray hair, piglets are born with brown and yellow stripes, a camouflage pattern that fades after about a year. (Photo/Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo)

 

From The Asian Reporter, V26, #13 (July 4, 2016), page 11.

Highly endangered Visayan warty pig baby born at the Oregon Zoo

A three-week-old Visayan warty pig — a species considered among the most endangered in the world — prompted squeals of joy from Oregon Zoo visitors in late June as he explored his outdoor habitat for the first time, frolicking alongside his mom, Marge.

Born June 9, the piglet has been nursing well and has even started eating some fruits and vegetables, according to senior keeper Julie Christie. While adult warty pigs have coarse gray hair, piglets are born with brown and yellow stripes, a camouflage pattern that fades after about a year.

"He looks like a little watermelon with legs," Christie said. "There are probably fewer than 300 of these animals left in the entire world, so each birth is really something to celebrate."

Christie hopes the curious and active piglet will be a charismatic ambassador for his species — educating visitors about the importance of saving the rare pigs and their ever-shrinking habitat.

Considered critically endangered, Visayan warty pigs are native to just six islands of the Philippines and have gone extinct on four of them. Slash-and-burn farming has destroyed their habitat at an alarming rate, leaving only small pockets of the species, which are isolated from each other and face dwindling food sources.

Following an urgent appeal from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Oregon Zoo became the fourth zoo in the nation to establish a breeding group of Visayan warty pigs. Marge came to Portland from the Los Angeles Zoo in 2007, joining Samar and Maganda, who arrived from the San Diego Zoo in 2006. A typical breeding group consists of one male and several females.

Little is known about Visayan warty pigs, which develop spiky, Mohawk-like manes during mating season. They have only been recognized as a separate species since 1993 and are named for the three pairs of fleshy "warts," or bumps, on their faces.

Visitors are able to see the new arrival on most days between 10:00am and 1:00pm at the zoo’s Island Pigs of Asia habitat. To view a video of the piglet exploring his outdoor habitat for the first time, visit <bit.ly/WartyPiglet>.

The Oregon Zoo is located at 4001 S.W. Canyon Road in Portland. To learn more, call (503) 226-1561 or visit <www.oregonzoo.org>.

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