07 05/07/2018

Three little piggies! Rare babirusa trio born at Chester Zoo

Not one, not two, but THREE of the worldโ€™s rarest pigs have been born at Chester Zoo.

  • Mum Kendari gives birth to rare trio of babirusa piglets
  • Triplets pictured playing in their muddy homes for first time
  • Piglets are a much-needed boost to the species with wild populations under threat in their native Indonesia
  • Fewer than 5,000 babirusa are estimated to remain due to hunting pressures and habitat loss
  • Zoo conservationists fighting to protect babirusa in the wild

The tiny trio of babirusa piglets arrived to mum Kendari (six) following a pregnancy of five months.

It is the first time ever that babirusa triplets have been born at the zoo – a rare occurrence which is thought to only happen in around four per cent of babirusa births.

Tiny trotters! One of three babirusa piglets born at Chester Zoo basks in the sunshine after playing in a mud wallow

Babirusa are found on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia where their numbers have crashed to fewer than 5,000. They were once viewed as common but a proliferation of hunting for their meat and habitat loss has seen them disappear from many parts of the island.

Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said:

Babirusa are, without question, one of the of the rarest pig species on the planet. It’s an animal that’s extremely vulnerable to extinction and under huge pressure for its long term survival.

We’re fighting alongside Indonesian conservationists and the Indonesian government to reverse the decline of the babirusa in its homeland.

Chester Zoo is also one of the world leaders in breeding these charismatic pigs. By making sure there is a sustainable population in zoos, whose genetic diversity represents the genetic diversity in the wild, the global zoo community can play a vital role in saving this species from extinction. Kendari’s new trio of piglets are special additions to the world’s population

Conservationists from Chester Zoo are working with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and zoos in Indonesia to share husbandry practices and promote the importance of cooperative conservation breeding programmes to save the species; as well as helping to deliver education activities.

Back in the Chester, the latest set of piglets were born on 20 May. Given the sensitive nature of the species, mum had been caring for her youngsters in a special behind-the-scenes breeding area. But now, Kendari has shown off her important, playful newborns for the first time in the zoo’s babirusa habitat.

For more on Chester Zoo’s babirusa conservation work, see: www.actforwildlife.org.uk/conservation-news/reverse-decline-asian-wild-cattle-populations/

Babirusa facts:

  • The piglets, which have not yet been sexed or named, were born on 20 May 2018
  • Mum Kendari is six years old (born on 28/10/2011)  
  • Dad is called Sausu  
  • Babirusa go through a five-month-long pregnancy
  • They feed on fruit, seeds, nuts, insects and fungi
  • In Malay, the name babirusa means ‘pig deer’
  • Listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable to extinction
  • The species, which was once thought to be reasonably common, has largely disappeared from some areas of Sulawesi where they are targeted by hunters for their meat and threatened by the loss of their tropical rainforests habitat, as it taken over by farmers and developers.

Notes to editors       

Chester Zoo

  • Chester Zoo (www.chesterzoo.org) is a registered conservation and education charity that supports projects around the world and closer to home in Cheshire. Welcoming 1.9 million visitors a year, it is the most visited zoo in the UK; home to over 21,000 animals and more than 500 different species, many of which are endangered in the wild

  • Chester Zoo is the UK’s most visited tourist attraction outside London, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA)

  • Through its wildlife conservation campaign, Act for Wildlife, the zoo is helping to save highly threatened species around the world from extinction. Find out more at www.actforwildlife.org.uk

  • @chesterzoo