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Red River Hogs Debut in Their Outdoor Habitat

Red river hog
Dudley can be identified by the white hairs on his ears and face.

Posted June 2021

The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to report that red river hogs Mort and Dudley can now be seen in their outdoor habitat! The brothers arrived here from the Dallas Zoo at the end of 2020 and spent the winter in residence in the former indoor Elephant Exhibit. As the weather has warmed, the 6-year-old pair has begun spending time outdoors. They will now be in their outdoor habitat daily, with access to their off-exhibit area when the weather is rainy.

Zookeepers report that, while Mort and Dudley were hesitant to transition into their outdoor habitat at first, they settled in quickly and are doing very well outside. They enjoy rooting around in the dirt, rolling in their mud wallow and splashing in their pool.

Red river hog
Mort explores his outdoor habitat.

Mort and Dudley are a spirited pair that keep their zookeepers busy. They arrived from the Dallas Zoo knowing a variety of trained behaviors. Their zookeepers are working to build relationships with the brothers and maintain those behaviors, which include target training, painting (for enrichment), kneeling, opening their mouths, standing still for injections, and participating in blood draws from their tails.

Mort and Dudley enjoy enrichment activities, especially those involving food. Enrichment is designed to encourage animals to exhibit natural behaviors that they would in the wild. Mort and Dudley are given feeder toys (toys with food inside that require the hogs to work to reach it), logs to rip the bark off, and boxes to stomp and claw.

Dudley is the dominant hog in the pair. He is lighter in color than Mort and has white hairs on his ears and face. Mort has darker skin and very little hair on his face. While Mort is submissive to Dudley, he is more inquisitive and assertive with his zookeepers than Dudley. Both Mort and Dudley are playful and enjoy attention from their zookeepers.

Mort and Dudley do not interact with Mango, the Zoo’s oldest resident hog. Male hogs tend to fight for dominance, especially when there are more than two hogs in the group. At 13 years old, Mango is quite a bit older than Mort and Dudley. He would not fare well in social encounters and could be injured. Mango is doing great as a solitary hog in the Zoo’s Winter Quarters area, receiving daily interaction and enrichment from zookeepers. He can sometimes be seen during Wild Connections tours.

Red river hogs are the smallest of the African pigs, weighing 100 to 285 pounds on average, and are found primarily in the rainforests and adjacent savannas of Africa. They are also found in dry forests and cultivated areas not far from rainforests.

Red river hogs are the most colorful of the pig family, getting their name from their red coat and their tendency to wallow in rivers and streams.

Video: Mort and Dudley enjoy their outdoor habitat.