Getting up close and personal with Bertello the "deer-pig"

Photo Credit: Riverbanks Zoo

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- There's an interesting and unique face joining the more than 2,000 different creatures of all shapes and sizes to visit at the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens. Bertello the babirusa has entered the fold at this family-favorite location in the Midlands.

The Malaysian term babirusa translates to deer-pig. While the babirusa TMs longish legs allow it to move swiftly like a deer, it is in fact a pig. The babirusa is also a gifted swimmer. Native only to a few islands in Indonesia, the babirusa prefers to live in moist forests, reed thickets and shores of rivers and lakes.

"The babirusa TMs unique appearance places it on the must-see list at the Zoo." said John Davis, curator of mammals at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. "Its most noticeable feature is its tusks protruding through the top of its snout."

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Before arriving at Riverbanks in December, Bertello was a favorite at the Los Angeles Zoo. Over the last couple months, animal keepers have been gradually introducing him to his new surroundings. Bert joins his fellow Indonesian resident, the siamang at the Zoo.

Babirusas are endangered due to shrinking habitat and over-hunting. The Babirusa Species Survival Plan, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, is currently looking for a suitable female to pair with Bertello for breeding.

Bertello the babirusa can be found near the African Bird Yard at the Zoo. For more information on Bert, the other animals, and programs offered at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden click here.

(This story courtesy WACH Fox Good Day Columbia contributor Tyler Ryan.)