Africa’s Southern Sudan and southwestern Ethiopia


Savanna woodland and grasslands

Brains before beauty

Warthogs may not be the most beautiful or graceful creatures in the Animal Kingdom. But they are remarkable for their strength, intelligence, and flexibility! Unlike many of their African counterparts, they are not endangered. This is because they are so skilled at adapting to new threats. For example, most warthogs like to forage during the light of the morning and early evening. But if they live in an area where people hunt them, they switch to foraging at night.

Home sweet aardvark hole

Warthogs are not picky about their homes, either. Instead of digging their own burrows, they find abandoned aardvark holes or natural burrows for homes. This is where they raise their young, sleep, and hide from predators. They usually back into the burrow, so they can use their sharp tusks to scare off any animal that bothers them. Burrows also protect them from temperature extremes. It may be hot at high noon or freezing in the middle of the night above ground, but the warthog remains comfy it its burrow.

When a male warthog wants to attract a female, he does a courtship “chant” of rhythmic grunts that sounds like an engine in need of a tune-up.
A warthog’s “warts” are not really warts but just thick growths of skin. Even though the growths stick out, they don’t have any bones or cartilage.

The San Diego Zoo was thrilled to receive our first pair of warthogs in 1937. They came from the Toronto Zoo in Canada in exchange for two young nilgai (a type of antelope). They were described at the time as “exceptionally clean, well-bred fellows.” More warthogs were added over the years. In the early 1990s, artists working on Disney’s animated movie The Lion King visited the Zoo to sketch and study our male warthog, Zeul. He was, at least for their purposes, quite a beautiful representative for the central character of Pumbaa!

Today, you can admire warthogs at both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Safari Park even has a warthog named Bubba who serves as an animal ambassador. He travels to the local television stations and goes for walks around the Park. He also participates in animal presentations there. Bubba has helped potential grooms with their "proposals," delivering the ring to the bride-to-be. He loves to wallow in his mud bath and continues to be the Fabio of the warthog world—very handsome!

Warthog populations are stable in the wild for now, and many populations live in protected areas.

You can help us bring other species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.