TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa Zoo's newest exhibit loves to dig holes and wallow in the mud.

Most people who see the three warthog sisters aren't really sure what they're looking at.

The warthogs are the newest addition to the zoo's African grassland habitat, making them the newest species at the Mary K. Chapman Rhino Reserve. 

The three warthog sisters — Asha, Imara and Zuri — arrived from the Oakland Zoo late last year, the zoo said.

Zookeepers Joral Martin and Eric Flossic have been spending lots of time with the three warthog sisters, slowly introducing the warthogs to the other species, allowing time for them to adjust to their new surroundings.

"When we first got them, they didn't know who we were," said Flossic.  "Joral and I have been working with them these past few months, building a rapport with them."

He says food is the great motivator.

Flossic and Martin say the girls give them plenty of work filling in the holes they dig each day, only to be dug out again the next day.

While animal care staff looked after and trained the warthogs, zoo operations and horticulture staff renovated the exhibit’s three yards.  They installed a dig barrier, modified the pipe fence, and laid additional sod to accommodate the new species.

“We are pleased to add this unique species to the zoo.  The Mary K. Chapman Rhino Reserve allows our guests to experience a re-creation of an African plains habitat,” said Lindsay Hutchison, vice president of community engagement and philanthropy.  “Seeing an exhibit where multiple species interact, just like they would in the wild, is the closest many zoo guests will ever come to an African safari.  The Tulsa Zoo is here to inspire a passion for wildlife and having world-class animal habitats helps guests connect with our animals.”

The three warthogs have enjoyed exploring the exhibit together, digging and wallowing in muddy depressions throughout the exhibit, the zoo said.  Far more social than male warthogs, females make a variety of vocalizations for communication.

The Tulsa Zoo provided these warthog facts:

  • Warthogs are named for the thick growths of skin that appear all over the animal’s faces; these growths do not have bone or cartilage inside.
  • They communicate with grunts, chirrups, squeals and snorts that convey greetings, warnings and threats, among other things.
  • Fictional character Pumbaa from The Lion King is a warthog.
  • Warthogs have longer legs than most pigs, allowing them to doge and outrun potential predators. They can reach speeds of up to 34 miles per hour.

  

The Tulsa Zoo's big fundraiser, "Waltz on the Wild Side," is coming up on Friday, June 15th.  Tickets are still available.