POLITICS

Watermelons with tails: Calgary Zoo welcomes birth of red river hogs

03/13/2012 12:04 EDT | Updated 05/13/2012 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - A first-time mom at the Calgary Zoo is already showing off her new babies to the public.

The zoo says a red river hog named Ine gave birth Monday to two piglets that look a bit like tiny watermelons with tails.

"The colouring of their hide ... the green and the striping of it, somehow reminds people of a little watermelon," said zoo spokeswoman Trish Exton-Parder. "I guess folks are going to have to see for themselves and see if that's true."

Exton-Parder says the wee ones are quite active already and are running about in the enclosure their mom built for them out of straw.

"They are really quite adorable little piglets," she said. "They run around with their little tails in the air and they're very curious.

"What we hope is that they are able to nurse really well in the first while. That's the most important thing to watch for, and so far they are doing very well in that."

The first-time mom is doing an excellent job, Exton-Parder said. Zookeepers had built a birthing area for Ine away from the public eye. But she apparently didn't much care for their decorating taste and built her own nest out in the open.

"She created her own birthing area and it functions today as a playpen for the kids. She's actually made it into a wide circle of straw so the little guys have a little automatic playpen in front of her."

It's not clear just yet what the piggies' gender is, but Exton-Parder said zookeepers are watching the piglets closely. Their sex should become readily apparent when they pee.

Red river hogs are native to west and central sub-Saharan Africa. They are also known as bush pigs and hang out in rain forests near rivers and swamps.

It's the fourth litter of red river hogs for the zoo under its species survival program. The facility now has five of the animals: another female, the two piglets, their mom and their dad Ekundu.