South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Cumbria, North West England is certainly becoming renowned through Europe for our success in breeding Babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) , a very rare Sulawesi species.
September 2003 saw the first young born here at the park and then first time mum Kota went on to rear “Sausage” who under the International Breeding Programme for Endangered Species later moved to Chester to start a family of his own.
Following that initial success the park had many issues with Kota killing any subsequent young, common amongst Babirusa. Every Babirusa is vital in the breeding programme as they are so rare. Only South Lakes Wild Animal Park, Chester Zoo & Antwerp have been successful in breeding Babirusa throughout the whole of Europe. So the decision was made by Animal Manager Jo Dennis to hand rear any future litters. Nights camping out around due dates were rewarded on 29th August 2007 when Kota gave birth to twins Nakula and Malu.
Only one other zoo within the European Breeding Programme has ever successfully hand reared Babirusa and that was Port Lympne in 1996, and although Jo had very little to go off and weeks of disturbed nights followed with hourly feeds and growing piglets, after many setbacks and worrying moments, Jo reared the two piglets to maturity.
Male Malu was moved to Wuppertaal Zoo in Germany to be paired with a female. Nakula stayed here at South Lakes and a young male was brought in to pair with her.On 11th March 2012 Nakula amazingly produced her own piglet and with all her “NATURAL” instinct began rearing it herself. The baby, a female, has been named Cinta (pronounced chinta) which means “love “in Indonesian. At 6 days old she weighed 900g and has gradually been putting on weight, at her most recent weigh in was a healthy 2.75kg showing mum Nakula is doing a great job.
From today visitors can see mum and piglet Mum outside in the spring sunshine.
A Fantastic success – for Jo, for South Lakes but most of all for Babirusa.
Endemic to the Sulawesi rainforests of Indonesia, the unique tusks erupting from its head below its eyes, the Babirusa today is close to extinction numbering as few as 5,000 individuals in the wild. The main threat being the speedy destruction of its rainforest home, and despite legal protection from Indonesian wildlife law, the illegal poaching for its meat.