Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Simon, Oakland Zoo's resident male warthog, now has two new ladies to court. Well, it may not be quite like the 80's hit, "Love Connection," but in the zoo world, it means three-year-old Simon was selected to breed with one of the zoo's newest additions.
“It is exciting when we get a breeding recommendation between two animals, especially warthogs,” said Victor Alm, Zoological Manager. “That means the genetics of these animals are valuable and that the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) is interested in increasing their representation. We have successfully had offspring between warthogs in the past and are looking forward to this possibility again soon.”
Female number one relocated from Zoo Atlanta and is two-years-old. Female number two, also a two-year-old warthog, is a former resident of the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida. Each of the females weigh approximately 165 pounds, have large wart protrusions on their heads, that are fat reservoirs, and two sets of tusks, which are prominent in the mouth area of their faces. Over the past few months, zookeepers have been gently introducing the two females together as it has been said they can be a challenge to introduce in captivity. To their credit, both females are getting along nicely and keepers are in the process of introducing 225 pound Simon. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as these two young girls are ideal lookers for Simon, who also has similar characteristics in the looks department.
Zoo guests will most likely see the three warthogs digging, as that is what warthogs are known to do. They are powerful diggers, using their disc like snout along with their legs to accomplish this task. They will bend down and eat or dig on their wrist and have calloused pads to help protect the wrist while doing this type of natural behavior. Warthogs are known to be enthusiastic mud wallowers and during warm weather will take advantage of this type of activity, to help them cool off. If they aren't mud wallowing, the three will most likely be grazing. This type of animal likes to graze on grasses as well as dig for roots and tubers. Zookeepers provide the group with fresh grasses daily. Besides just food, keepers give the animals contraptions that extend meal time. Pellet feeders allow the diet components to be spread over several hours; the warthogs have to roll the devices around their exhibit to eat. This kind of exercise helps stimulate foraging as this is what animals do in the wild. Keepers also give the three many opportunities for digging by supplying piles of compost, which can transform into mini mud for the animals to enjoy.
Zoo guests are able to distinguish the male warthog from the females as he is larger in size and older. His warts are also more prominent than the female's. Besides rolling around in mud, the trio are likely to be sun bathing as they enjoy getting a little sun time each day. Their coloring is similar to that of dirt, so guests are encouraged to be patient like an "I Spy " game and wait for the animals to be discovered in their natural camouflage setting.
ABOUT WARTHOGS: Warthogs have been known to live into their mid to late teens in captivity. They are found in sub-Sahara Africa, in the grassland and savannah habitats. Typically, these animals are seen eating, sleeping, and wallowing in the mud. They will rest frequently during the afternoon hours. Warthogs are in the pig family and can make the grunting and squealing sounds associated with that type of animal. When greeting one another through the fence or on exhibit, they make what is described by zookeepers as a low repetitious grunt.
ABOUT OAKLAND ZOO: The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.