A warthog debut

The Zoo's baby warthogs, Kirby and Cecil, meet their public

May 04, 2010|By Chris Kaltenbach, Baltimore Sun

The kids didn't seem to mind, but mom was a nervous wreck.

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore's five-week-old baby warthogs, named Kirby and Cecil in an online poll that attracted some 1,300 votes, had their official coming-out party Tuesday morning. While the two boy hogs were content to simply hang together in the back of their enclosure, mom Kumari was clearly a wreck, pacing back and forth ceaselessly, casting worried glances at the assembled humans, acting for all the world more like an expectant father than a proud mama.

"She's more of an afternoon pig," the Zoo's Chris Grassl patiently explained. "She's a little nervous this morning."

That didn't stop Terry Slade Young, the Zoo's executive vice president for institutional advancement, from urging the assembled crowd to "go hog wild." Fortunately for Kumari, there weren't that many people there – about a dozen Zoo staffers and a handful of parents with little kids. So while the roar from the crowd was enthusiastic, it was far from deafening. More important, it didn't seem to add noticeably to Kumari's anxiety level.

Not that first-time mom Kumari, 4, needed to worry. Her boys were adorable (at least as adorable as a warthog can be), and quite the crowd-pleasers. "I thought they were really cute," said Maria Bruton, who was visiting the Zoo with her 4-year-old son, Thurston. "I loved it when they chased after each other, just like any brother and sister – or are they two brothers?"

They are indeed brothers, assured Grassl, and they've about doubled their birth-weight of three pounds each. Both guys are still nursing, he said, although they've been seen to lick hay and strawberries thrown their way. And while they look pretty-much identical to the untrained eye, Grassl swore he has no trouble telling them apart.

"One of them is slightly larger," he said, "and when the sunshine hits him, his hair is a little more reddish than the other one."

The boy hogs' dad, Kajani, 2, is being kept in a separate enclosure and has yet to meet his children, Grassl said. "Male warthogs have been known not to be nice," he said.

Mother permitting, Cecil and Kirby can be found at the warthog pen, just across from the Zoo's giraffe house. After they've gotten bigger, Grassl said, the warthogs most likely will be sent to another zoo.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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