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One of the world’s rarest pigs is born at Chester Zoo

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A baby piglet of one of the world’s rarest breeds of pigs has been born at Chester Zoo just in time for Christmas.

The Visayan warty piglet is one of the rarest in the world with as few as 200 of them remaining in the wild.

Agricultural expansion and logging have devastated vast amounts of their habitat in the Philippines where they are also hunted for meat.

The piglet arrived to Gwen, nine, and dad Tre, 10, named after punk rockers Gwen Stefani and Tre Cool.

A Visayan warty piglet explores the outside world with mum Gwen at Chester Zoo (Chester Zoo)
A Visayan warty piglet explores the outside world with mum Gwen at Chester Zoo (Chester Zoo)

Mark Brayshaw, Curator of Mammals at Chester Zoo, said: “It’s fantastic to see the birth of any animal, but when they’re critically endangered and fighting for survival in the wild, it makes it even more special.

“Baby piglets are incredibly energetic and playful, and so the whole group will certainly be kept very busy over the coming months.

“Visayan warty pigs aren’t just your average pig. During breeding season, males develop a long, protruding mane from their head, giving them a mohawk-like hairstyle. Both mum Gwen and dad Tre are named after punk rockers Gwen Stefani and Tre Cool as a result of this iconic look, and I’m sure it won’t be long until we’ve decided a suitable name to follow in that tradition.

“Every piglet is a vital addition to the breeding programme and will help champion the plight of this fascinating, charismatic species.”

 (Chester Zoo)
(Chester Zoo)

Visayan warty pigs live in small social groups and communicate with squeaks, grunts and chirrups. Piglets take their mother’s milk for up to six months, moving on to a varied diet that includes roots, tubers and fruits.

Chester Zoo was the first zoo in the UK to care for Visayan warty pigs, a species that gets its name from three pairs of fleshy warts on the boar’s face.

The breeding centre in the Philippines, and the nature reserve where the pigs were released, have recently been hit by a deadly typhoon causing damage to fences and buildings. Chester Zoo is supporting the Talarak Foundation with repair costs, but extra funding is needed.

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