What’s In a Name? Ask These Babirusa Piglets

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Ginger and Ivy, two rare Babirusa piglets born at the Audubon Zoo, recently made their public debut. The piglets are the third litter born at Audubon Zoo to mom Betty and dad Wrigley.

Born October 14, the piglets’ names have significance:  Ivy gets her name from the foliage which adorns the walls of the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. The theme started with dad Wrigley and continued with the two of the newborns’ siblings – Clark and Addison – who are named after two streets that intersect outside the ballpark.

The choice of Ginger is simpler: It’s a favorite browse treat of Audubon Zoo’s Babirusa family.

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Babirusapiglets5098Photo Credit:  Audubon Zoo

Audubon Zoo, which has produced eight Babirusa piglets since 2005, is one of the few facilities in the United States that exhibit this species.  The zoo participates in the Babirusa Species Survival Plan in partnership with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums members.

Babirusa are found primarily on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi north of Borneo. Even though Babirusa are a protected species, they are threatened in the wild due to illegal hunting and habitat loss.

Babirusa are omnivores and will eat fruits, nuts, leaves, small invertebrates, birds, and even turtles in the wild. Males typically have two sets of tusks, one on the lower jaw and one that grows from the top jaw through the top of the snout towards the head. Babirusa means “pig deer” in the native Malay language. One theory posits that the Sulawesi people gave the Babirusa this moniker because its large canines are similar in appearance to deer antlers.

Like most pigs, Babirusa enjoy wallowing in mud, which helps protect their skin from insect bites and the tropical sun. Babirusa are excellent swimmers and very intelligent, social animals who enjoy interaction with animal care staff, particularly when training.

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