Visayan warty pigs now at Hellabrunn Zoo’s Rhino House

In late October, the Rhino House welcomed new residents: two Visayan warty pigs were transferred from Belfast Zoo to a male-only enclosure at Hellabrunn. Here in Munich the lively duo are ambassadors for their near-extinct species, currently found in the wild on only two islands in the Philippines.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Joerg Koech

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn

"We are delighted to be able to offer our visitors an opportunity to meet a species as rare as our two warty pigs,” says zoo director Rasem Baban. "Particularly as these animals are difficult to observe in the wild."

The Visayan warty pigs derive their name from their habitat, the Visayan Islands in Philippines, where the few remaining animals live primarily in the rainforest of just two of the islands. As their natural habitat increasingly shrinks due to clearing by local farmers, this has caused a dramatic rise in pigs eating cultivated crops and thus being treated as pests. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Visayan warty pig is listed as critically endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. In fact, the species is already extinct on four of the six islands of their endemic habitat.

Hellabrunn Zoo is a member of the European Studbook for the Visayan warty pig. The zoo decided to offer a new home to the two boars on the recommendation of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). The fact that the pair are two males presents no problem at all. "As part of the conservation breeding programme, it is important that some zoos keep same-sex groups in order to allow the EEP to control the population," explains curator Carsten Zehrer. "We are therefore happy to provide a home for the animals at Hellabrunn." There are currently about 150 individuals living in zoos across Europe.

Very little is known about the Visayan warty pig due to their rare occurrence. Its distinguishing features include a bristly, blackish coat and three pairs of fleshy “warts” on the face of the boar. Males weigh between 35 and 40 kilos, females between 20 and 25 kilos.

While it is difficult to observe the Visayan warty pig in the wild, visitors to Hellabrunn Zoo can get up close to the species both in the outdoor enclosure and in the Rhino House.