July 23, 2016
Babirusa: Extraordinary Pig
- as seen by -Joe Nappi
As the Bronx Zoo’s Wild Asia Monorail glides overhead, a small bizarre creature flicks its tail and grunts while searching for food just beyond a dense bamboo thicket. This unique animal is called the babirusa, which means “pig deer” in the Malay language.
Babirusa are an endangered species hailing from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. This species’ claim to fame is the unique set of tusks male babirusa obtain as they mature. A set of tusks, which are enlarged canines, erupt through the top of the snout while a second set juts out from the side of this pig’s mouth. This peculiar ornamentation is thought to be utilized for attracting females.
Pictured here is a mother and her one-year-old male piglet, who will begin to develop his own unique set of tusks within a couple of years. The Bronx Zoo is one of the leading zoos to breed this endangered species and currently houses ten of these extraordinary pigs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: National Zoo Keeper Week is July 16-24. Wild View is featuring posts by our Wildlife Conservation Society zoo keepers. For more on activities at our wildlife parks during keeper week, visit the Bronx Zoo’s #Keeperweek Challenge, Prospect Park Zoo’s National Zoo Keeper Week, and check for keeper chats at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo.