Europe, Asia, Pacific Islands, and Africa


Rain forest, wetlands, savanna, scrubland, and temperate forest

Mighty fine swine

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but there's more to wild swine (also known as pigs, hogs, and boars) than meets the eye! From the petite pygmy hog to the immense Eurasian wild pig, swine are fascinating animals. Each species has its own distinctive look, behavior, and geographic region but shares many traits: strength, resourcefulness, and intelligence.

Looks like a pig

All swine (a plural noun meaning pigs) have that familiar piggy look: small eyes, expressive ears, and a squared-off snout for digging. But let’s skip to the end—the back end, that is. If a porcine individual’s tail is curly, then he or she is domesticated; wild pigs have straight tails. Domestic pigs often get much larger than their wild counterparts: a few have weighed more than 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms)! Males are always much larger than the females and have larger, more prominent tusks.

Bearded pigs are champion jumpers and can leap over barriers 7 feet (2.1 meters) high.
Wild pigs now found in the Americas and Australia are feral descendants of domesticated pigs.
Wild boars have been around for a long time. The earliest known representation of a pig is a painting of a leaping boar on the wall of a cave in Spain, estimated to be about 40,000 years old.
Swine is a plural noun meaning pigs.
Only domestic pigs have the familiar curly tail; wild pigs have straight tails.
Almost all Visayan warty pigs in US zoos were born at the San Diego Zoo.
Do you sweat like a pig? Impossible! Pigs don’t sweat, which is one reason they need to cool off in water and mud wallows.
Bearded pigs can travel in groups of up to 300 individuals, migrating and sometimes completely disappearing from an area, only to reappear a few months later.
A family of bearded pigs can dig a hole with their snouts through dirt so hard packed that humans must use jackhammers to break through it!
Humans have long regarded the Eurasian wild pig as a symbol of strength, boldness, and ferocity.
The Eurasian wild pig is the ancestor of the domestic pig found on farms.
Eurasian wild pigs are known to attack and eat snakes, including venomous ones. They are not immune to the venom, but it is thought that their dense layers of fat reduce the absorption rate so the body can break down the toxins.

The San Diego Zoo has had various wild swine species, starting with warthogs, since the 1930s and has a proud record of wild swine breeding success.

Babirusas and warty pigs were first obtained in 1936. We were the first zoo outside of the Philippines to breed critically endangered Visayan warty pigs in 2002 and have had 65 born at the Zoo since that time.

We developed one of the world’s most successful breeding programs for Eurasian wild pigs; they first came into the collection in 1937, and over 100 have been born here since then. We were the first zoo to successfully breed red river hogs in the US—one male and one female were born in 1995. The first birth of Bornean bearded pigs in the Western Hemisphere occurred at the San Diego Zoo in 1997.

Today, the San Diego Zoo has red river hogs, which live in a mixed species exhibit along Hippo Trail with monkeys, otters, and a forest buffalo, and a red river hog named Murphy who is trained as an animal ambassador and may be seen in the Zoo’s Backstage Pass program. We also have babirusas along the Tiger Trail and are one of just a few zoos to house Visayan warty pigs outside of their native land, the Philippines—look for them along Park Way in Panda Canyon.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park has warthogs and red river hogs, including one named Rooty, who serves as an animal ambassador and is a part of the Safari Park’s Frequent Flyers bird show. Rooty is a natural-born ham, exhibiting spins, sits, and heeling in style. But a pig in a bird show? When pigs fly. Get it? Red river hogs can also be seen in Nairobi Village, and warthogs live in the Safari Park’s African Outpost and in Mammal Marsh, where they can be viewed during an Africa Tram Safari.

Humans have hunted bearded pigs Sus barbatus for food for more than 40,000 years and began domesticating Eurasian wild pigs Sus scrofa in Europe, India, China, and Malaysia about 7,000 years ago.

Pygmy hogs Porcula salvania are the smallest of all wild pigs. They live in India, in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. Little is known about these rare animals, and by the 1960s, they were thought to be extinct because of hunting and loss of habitat. Then, a small number of the tiny pigs was discovered in 1971—good news for pig lovers everywhere! Since their habitat continues to shrink, pygmy hogs are still at critical risk of extinction.

Living on a small island can be difficult for animals: they cannot leave to escape predators, food shortages, or hunters. This has affected swine species such as the Visayan warty pig Sus cebifrons, found on only two islands in the Philippines, and the Javan warty pig Sus verrucosus, found on only the Indonesian island of Java.

San Diego Zoo Global is dedicated to helping the pig species of the world! For example, since the early 1990s, the Zoo has funded Visayan warty pig conservation efforts in the pig’s native homeland. As the first zoo outside of the Philippines to breed them, we have loaned some of the offspring to other zoos to generate additional funds for warty pig conservation.

You can help us bring warty pig and 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.