New pig breed in Copenhagen Zoo
scientists were surprised to find out that two pigs at Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark
produced some "impossible" offspring: a new hybrid was created after the mating
between a babirusa and a domestic pig.
After the zoo's lone babirusa, originally an Indonesian animal (see photo),
showed signs of loneliness, personnel decided to give it company, putting two
domestic pigs into the babirusa's area. The zoo employees were baffled when a
chance mating bore fruit - five small hybrid offspring which zoo experts say
never should have been possible.
"That the mating produced piglets is the equivalent of a cow and a goat
producing offspring," said zoologist Bengt Holst, assistant director of Copenhagen Zoo. "While the domestic
pig and the babirusa come from the same ancestor, it's so far back that the two
species today are common only at the so-called under-family level, which is the
same grouping as we have with the chimpanzee."
The new breed has not yet been classified, and zoo staff is guarded in their
long-term prognosis for the species.
"Hybrids usually don't live long as pure species and I doubt that the piglets
themselves can produce offspring," Holst said.
Early signs for the piglets are good, however, and blood and tissue samples
have been taken from the offspring to determine their health and, not least,
their DNA make-up. The physical traits of the offspring most resemble the
babirusa, both in their teeth and skin colour.
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