Gladys Porter Zoo introduces brother warthogs

Two male warthogs, named Rollo and Leonardo, roam their new enclosure Nov. 27 at Gladys Porter Zoo. (Denise Cathey | The Brownsville Herald)

BROWNSVILLE — The Gladys Porter Zoo welcomed two new warthogs, brothers Rollo and Leonardo, to the zoo recently from Indianapolis.

The brothers, who are currently about one-third of their full-grown size, were transported from Indiana and are quickly settling in to their new habitat, finished days ago.

Patrick Burchfield, Gladys Porter Zoo director, explained how the exhibit was set up to accommodate the pigs, which are native to sub-Saharan Africa.

“All pigs wallow in the mud because they don’t have much in the way of sweat glands. That’s how they cool off and it also protects them from biting flies and other types of things that they encounter,” he said.

The zoo added a wallowing pit filled with mud, sectioned off from the rest of the dwelling in the hopes that the pigs won’t turn the entire exhibit into a mud pit, digging underneath the dirt.

The two warthogs, Rollo and Leonardo, sniff at the boundaries of their enclosure Nov. 27 at Gladys Porter Zoo. These are the first warthogs ever to reside at the zoo. (Denise Cathey | The Brownsville Herald)

“Warthogs, like wild hogs, root to find food. The pigs use their cartilage-supported noses to dig, and they’re powerful diggers.”

The pigs are omnivorous and eat small animals if they can catch them. Warthogs also eat grass and various plants. Notably, the date palm trees that Burchfield installed in elevated planters have already been partially eaten by the brothers.

Rollo and Leonardo can run up to 35 miles per hour, protecting them from predators in the wild including cheetahs, lions, and hyenas.

Their long tusks also serve as a method of self-defense — the sharp upper canines curl outside of the mouth, ready to fend off attackers.

Buchanan says that warthogs are hunted for food, as well as for their tusks. They are not endangered, but still face endangered habitats and fractured breeding grounds.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com