The San Diego Zoo is very excited to announce that Asali, a red river hog, gave birth on May 2 of this year. She had two piglets (average litters are 1 to 4 youngsters), a boy and a girl. Unfortunately, the girl didn’t make it past her first day of life, but the little boy, Jabari (which means “courageous” in Swahili) is doing well and can be seen running around his exhibit with mom and dad.
Jabari had a rough start. Asali has had litters before but is not yet a reliable mother. She would not let Jabari nurse and even nipped him a couple of times. Jabari was removed from the exhibit, and thanks to the dedicated work of the nursery keepers is strong, healthy, and well on his way to becoming as imposing as his 120-pound father, Tarzan.
After being cared for by people, Jabari had to be reintroduced to his parents and to being a pig. Jabari spent his days in a holding area next to mom and dad’s exhibit, with a small screen through which to greet each other. When Jabari was deemed strong enough, the screen was removed, and we all held our breath as he shared the exhibit with mom and dad for the first time since his birth. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome! Asali and Tarzan were extremely patient as this little monster came running over, jumped on them, and nipped their face and ears. It must have been an exhausting morning for them all, because eventually, mom and dad laid down with baby nestled in between them.
Normally, red river hog piglets will nurse for the first three months of their lives; however, Asali is not allowing this. But Jabari has been trained to come into the holding area when called by keeper staff to receive his bottle of milk. Soon he will have to learn from mom and dad how to eat solid foods.
Nate Schierman is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read his previous post, Enormous Changes for Hippos.