The piglets, born on March 20th, have been keeping their three-year-old parents Nera and Nino on their toes as they need constant care and supervision, especially during their daily move from their stall to an outdoor enclosure, an event that has attracted plenty of attention from zoo visitors.
According to Basel Zoo, these walks take practice – “not just for the miniature pigs, but also for kids at the children’s zoo, who have to make sure that the squealing troop stays together”.
This litter is the fifth one from experienced parents Nero and Nino, and despite their cheeky and inquisitive nature, all are doing well.
“After a few initial training sessions in the stall, they now visit the outdoor enclosure every morning, before heading back to the stall in the afternoon. The walk helps train, occupy and exercise the miniature pigs all at once,” a statement from the zoo said.
“It is important that the little ones learn from early on that they need to stay by their mother, as the temptation to disappear into the green areas by the wayside is very high for inquisitive piglets.”
Photo: Basel Zoo
Child volunteers keep piglets in check
The children who volunteer at the children’s zoo help with the pig walks in an orderly fashion, a tough job as one group of children walks in a line, followed by someone luring the pigs with a feed bucket full of pieces of potato. The miniature pigs march in the middle of the procession. Meanwhile, the second line of children follows at a suitable distance to make sure that no piglets are left behind. Each child has a broom and if a piglet strays too far from its mother, they use their broom to tap it lightly on the ground near the little one, steering it back to its mum.
Once the baby pigs have had enough practice, experienced children will be able to lead the walk.
Besides the popular miniature piglets, there are currently two young miniature goats and newly hatched Silkie chickens to be looked after by the children.
In 2018, children and young adults contributed around 4,100 full or half days of voluntary work under the watchful eye of the zookeepers. Helpers at the children’s zoo must be at least eight years old.