Barbirusa bursts onto the scene at Chester Zoo

A rare piglet has been born at Chester Zoo. The young babirusa known by the name of Matano was born to mum Majene after she has been pregnant for 161 days. His dad is called Sausu.

Chester Zoo is one of the few zoos in Europe which have managed to breed these distinctive birds. Matano is seen as heralding the future for this important species.


Tim Rowlands, Cuartor of mammals said, “Years of planning and preparation have gone into us being able to successfully breed babirusa here. Matano is important for the future of the species and so we’re thrilled to bits with her.

We hope that, one day, Matano will grow up to become a vital part of the international breeding programme which is working to safeguard the species by ensuring there’s a healthy, viable back-up population in the event that they disappear from the wild.”


Born in early December Matano has been spending time behind the scenes where keepers could keep a close eye on him and Majene.

“Babirusa are a sensitive species and we needed to give mum and baby plenty of quiet time to bond. Majene is a great, experienced mother – very protective and extremely watchful over her piglet. Little Matano doesn’t leave her side,” added Rowlands.


Now the pair are ready to make their public debut. Barbirusa are threatened by habitat loss through logging and hunting for meat which has led the IUCN to class them as vulnerable.

Some of the zoo’s barbirusa are planning to pack their backs in a June and move to the zoo’s new islands complex. This ambitious expansion is the largest project in UK zoo history.


The Islands project will recreate the habitats of Sulawesi, Papua, Sumba, Sumatra and the Phillipines. Visitors will be led on their own conservation expedition.

Babirusas feed on fruit, seeds, nuts, insects and fungi. Their name means pif deer in Indonesia after their unusual appearance. One striking feature is the big curling tusks on the males.

Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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