Saturday, February 16, 2008

Babirusa Brothers at the Oregon Zoo

Photos by Sheryl Todd
Click on any picture to enlarge

What a treat it was to visit the Oregon Zoo in Portland and see their two young babirusas up close and active. Lee had seen something about these unusual pig-family members on TV, and then coincidentally read that some had recently come to our nearest zoo. We had to see them.

We thought we were out of luck when the day, predicted to be warm and sunny, was instead overcast and cold. We thought the babirusas would stay in their warm den, but one of the zoo guides told us they'd been out a few minutes before, so we stuck around. Sure enough, they emerged. First one of the two young brothers came out and strode through the yard and returned to shelter. Then they both emerged, ready for play. They chased each other back and around, one pinned the other on the ground in something like a wrestling move, and then both trotted into the water and climbed back out. They went inside their den, re-emerged, and started again. The pigs seemd affectionate and playful, and were a joy to watch. We felt ourselves lucky. They of course reminded me of tapirs, to which they are not closely related except that all have hooves. Still, their movements were reminiscent. Unlike most pigs, babirusas do not root, but eat leaves, like tapirs.

Signs at the zoo show the tusks of an adult babirusa and show their origin on the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) in Indonesia. As with so many wild animals, babirusas are under threat from humans. Check them out on Google's search. There are a number of excellent sites with photos and descriptions. Until today I didn't know babirusas were so interesting or CUTE (unlike the drawing below, which makes them look like something deformed from outer space - sorry, but I don't think the picture does them justice!).

Click the photo to read the text

Babirusa links I especially like are: The St. Louis Zoo, Wallacea (nice photo), Wikipedia, and some videos. Especially don't miss this this video from the Oregon Zoo! Also check out Ultimate Ungulate for the babirusa's family tree. Here's another good link I just found.

Next door to the babirusas were some ultra cool Vasayan warty pigs from the Philippines. They ended up on one of my other blogs.


Anonymous said...

These are some of the best babirusa photos on the web. Awesome. -phil

zombie squirrels said...

I love that picture with the two of them running. Great shots!