At 2 p.m. on March 27, Goldie, a red river hog living in Nairobi Village at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, delivered four healthy, rambunctious piglets. For four months, we had watched expectantly as Goldie’s belly had grown bigger and bigger (round even by pig standards!). The piglets, two boys and two girls, were instantly active. Red river hogs are naturally precocious, and these four are no exception. The boys, Baloo and Bagheera, take their names from The Jungle Book like their dad, Mowgli. The girls, Zamu and Zola, have Swahili names like their older sister, Lozi.
Anytime the four piglets are awake, they are in motion. Whether sparring and chasing, rooting and digging up their exhibit, or climbing over Mom and Dad, the little siblings are constantly busy. This much activity raises one question: how do the parents and big sister tolerate the four tiny tornadoes? The answer is with great patience: porcine patience.
This being her third litter, Goldie knows how to handle seemingly tireless piglets who want to eat all the time. Any time Goldie stops walking, the piglets latch on to suckle. Eventually, Goldie flops to her side to allow them to nurse. Older sister Lozi is turning out to be a terrific role model. She never snaps at her striped siblings, even when they steal food out from under her snout.
Father Mowgli is a paragon of patience; his calm, collected gait is hardly altered as the piglets dart between his legs. He tolerates the piglets’ constant pushing, shoving, and climbing. And it would seem the piglets are even learning to take it easy from him. Usually the last one to leave a comfortable bed in the morning, he is now joined by his black-and-orange offspring. Goldie and Lozi jolt awake at the sound of breakfast; Mowgli and kids lay sleepily in their hay a few minutes longer. It’s not uncommon to find the piglets nestled snugly against Dad…when they choose to slow down, that is.
Interested in all the activity at the red river hog exhibit? Visit the Safari Park and watch the piglets as they root, dig, forage, and even learn to show a little patience.
Matt Gelvin is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.