Two warthogs born at zoo

'They're cute,' curator says of males now in isolation

April 01, 2010|By Chris Kaltenbach

Two male warthogs, born March 22 to Kumari and Kajani at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, are up and around and acting just like the little pigs they are.

"They're cute," insists Mike McClure, the zoo's general curator, well aware of the warthog's reputation for being ... well, pretty darn ugly. "They already have teeth; they already have their fur coats. They look just like miniature pigs."

The two piglets were discovered by zoo personnel at 4 a.m. March 22. These are the first babies for 5-year-old Kumari, who has been at the Maryland Zoo since she was a young warthog herself. She is, by all reports, taking to mothering just fine, nursing the piglets regularly and keeping an eye on them.

"Mom is doing it all herself, and it's beautiful," says McClure.

At their first weigh-in on Tuesday, the as-yet-unnamed babies weighed a little more than three pounds each. They will remain out of public view for at least the next several weeks, McClure says, while staff baby-proof their enclosure in the zoo's African Journey section, near the Giraffe Feeding Station.

The babies also need to become acclimated to Baltimore's climate, which is considerably different from that of the African savanna.

"We need to make certain they can handle the temperature," says McClure, who estimates the pair's public debut could come some time in the next several weeks.

Kajani, like all male warthogs, is being a largely absentee parent, leaving the child-rearing to Kumari. But with mom and kids in isolation, he'll play a key role in the coming weeks as the sole warthog on public display at the zoo.

The babies are the first born in Baltimore since the warthog enclosure in the African Journey exhibit opened in 2000, McClure says. The common warthog, known to scientists and Latin scholars as Phacochoerus africanus is common to Africa's open grasslands, although they occasionally make their way to the desert's outer fringes or into more dense vegetation.

In the wild, warthogs are a favorite food of many of Africa's big cats.

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