The male and female are the only ones on exhibit in New England
Providence, RI – Finishing up a summer of new animal exhibit openings, Roger Williams Park Zoo invites Rhode Islanders to come see two new red river hogs. The male, named Harley, and female, Persephone, are the only ones of their kind in New England. Persephone was born two years ago and previously lived at the Peoria Zoo in Illinois. Nine year old Harley came from the San Diego Zoo in California. The enclosure for the newcomers can be found in the Jambo Junction village area.
Red river hogs are native to West and central sub-Saharan Africa to northern areas of South Africa and Madagascar where they live in rainforests, wet savannas, and forested valleys or near slow waterways. Not surprisingly, they are red to dark brown in color with a white dorsal stripe. They stand 2-3 feet tall and grow 3-5 feet in length with a 12-18 inch tail. Their snouts are covered with warts and ridges and they have distinctive long whisker-like wisps of hair. They use their tusks, small uppers and longer lower tusks measuring up to three inches long, to cut through woody roots and tubers. They also eat fruit, small mammals, small reptiles, birds, eggs, insects and carrion.
More fun facts:
- Male red river hogs are called “boars” and females are called “sows”.
- They live in groups called sounders comprised of up to 12-20 individuals, led by one of the boars.
- Their predators are leopards, lions, hyenas, snakes and humans
- Observations indicate that red river hogs will follow primate groups in order to eat fruits that are dropped to the ground.
- They are very communicative, using grunts, squeaks and chirrups
- They will often blow their breath on each other as a form of greeting.
- Strangely enough, the conservation issues facing many other African animals can sometimes be beneficial to this pig species. As leopards (primary predators) become increasingly rare due to loss of habitat and competition with human expansion and agriculture, red river hogs have increased in numbers. Then they are often hunted as agricultural pests and as a food source. A herd can often destroy crops in a very short amount of time.
Roger Williams Park Zoo, one of the oldest in the nation, is Rhode Island’s number one outdoor family and tourist attraction and is also a leader in conservation efforts undertaken by a zoo of its size. The Zoo has received numerous awards for conservation work done both around the globe and in local habitats as well, caring for species that, without human intervention, would face certain extinction. Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and maintained by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence.