Tales of the TailsAttention Hogs

October 22, 2017

Do you remember the story about the three little pigs who each had a house made of either straw, sticks or bricks? A mean wolf ended up blowing down the straw and stick houses, but was no match for the brick house, so the three little pigs lived happily ever after.

Although the story isn’t real, If you visit the ZooFarm you may run across a rendition of the famous pig houses in the middle of the Kunekune pig exhibit. In this enclosure you can actually find three pigs who aren’t so little – Ricky, Ethel and Lucy.

Kunekune pigs are just one out of hundreds of domestic pig species, and are part of the family Suidae, which includes several types of boar and hog species. Kunekune means fat and round, which is how a lot of people would describe a pig’s appearance.

Kunekunes have longer, thicker hair than other pig species, and can grow to weigh between 80 and 400 pounds! Like most pigs, they eat a hefty diet, which includes grain and hay, as well as a variety of fruits and veggies. They are said to be easier to take care of compared to other pig species, and their life span is 15-20 years.

Kunekune pigs are mostly found in New Zealand and the United Kingdom today, but were once hard to find. There were believed to be only around 50 purebred Kunekune pigs in the world until around the 1970s, when two wildlife park owners began breeding the pigs. Luckily, they brought the breed back from the brink of extinction and you can now find them at farms all over the world.

Kunekune pigs are very social and intelligent animals, and often take quickly to training. The pigs at the Zoo are all harness trained to go for walks around the Zoo with their trainers. While they are harnessed, they are “in training” and are focsuing on their trainers’ cues.  For this reason, we ask that guests refrain from approaching and attempting to touch them while they are harnessed, unless the trainer invites you to.  Once they are back in their pen, you are more than welcome to come say hello and offer a belly or ear scratch!

Ricky is the youngest of the three pigs, and the smallest at only 87 pounds. He was born on January 1, 2015 in North Carolina. One month later, he arrived at the Virginia Zoo. Ricky can be identified by his mostly black coat with large black spots. He eats ¼ pound of grain per day, as well as timothy hay and a mix of veggies. For enrichment, he loves eating food, and his favorite hobby is stealing food from Lucy and Ethel, and spinning around in circles when he gets excited!

Ethel was born on November 1, 2014 in North Carolina, then arrived at the Zoo in February of 2015. Ethel’s hair is black with a few small white spots. She weighs 109 pounds and will eat anything in her recommended diet except for peppers. Keepers say Ethel is very smart and appears to enjoy learning new things.

Lucy and Ethel share the same birthday and arrived at the Zoo at the same time. Lucy has black spots and bright red hair. She got her name from the famous I Love Lucy show, as Ricky and Ethel also did. Lucy only weighs 98 pounds, and will eat anything in her diet, except for peppers. She is the most active of the trio, and appears to enjoy going on power walks after doing her other favorite hobby: eating. Keepers say that she also enjoys getting brushed, and will often fall over for a belly rub!

You can find Ricky, Ethel and Lucy in their enclosure in the Red barn, located in the ZooFarm, or maybe even out in the Zoo during walks! Wherever you see them, be sure to say hello!

Want to take one home with you? You can Zoodopt your favorite pig, starting at just $25! Check out our awesome Zoodoption packages here.