Behaviour of the babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa) with suggestions for husbandry.

11 May 2006

The babirusa is a remarkable pig, endemic on the Indonesian islands of Sulawesi, Buru and the smaller Sula and Togian islands. The single species of the genus is divisable into three living subspecies: Babyrousa babyrussa babyrussa (Sula Islands and Buru), B.b. togeanensis (Togian islands) and B.b. celebenesis (Sulawesi) (Groves, 1980), of which only the latter is currently represented in captivity. The species is listed in the IUCN Red Data Book as vulnerable and can be considered a marker animal for the disturbance of the primary rainforest. The Indonesian Department of Forest Protection and nature Conservation (Perlindungan Hutan dan Pelestarian Alam: PHPA) has given it the second most important priority after the Indonesian rhinos. This present paper reports the results of studies carried out on a large number of babirussa. Observations were made in Antwerp Zoo in Belgium and in the Zoos at Surabaya and Jakarta in Indonesia. These institutions represent 3 different ways in which the babirusa are currently kept in captivity. In Antwerp Zoo, each animal has its own enclosure; Surabaya Zoo keeps animals in large groups and Jakarta Zoo houses them in pairs. Each of these different housing techniques had its own implications on the behaviour shown by the animals and this allowed us to make suggestions for their future husbandry.