On February 2, Remley the babirusa (a species of Asian pig native to Indonesia) made her winter weather prediction at the Houston zoo’s Wortham World of Primates.
Remley made her Babirusa Day weather prediction by choosing between two weather ‘scenes’ created by her keepers. One scene represented 6 more weeks of winter – a ‘snowman’ on a field of white paper accepted with ice cubes containing babirusa treats such as figs and carrots. The other scene represented the onset of an early spring – a picnic scene complete with a ‘picnic blanket’ and a picnic basket with babirusa treats and slices of watermelon.
Remley entered the babirusa exhibit and trotted over to the snowman, flirted briefly with ‘winter’ and then dove enthusiastically into ‘summer’ enjoying a watermelon treat.
The decision? Remley is expecting an early spring, not 6 more weeks of winter!
Why was Remley the babirusa chosen to stand in for the traditional ground hog?
Well, the Houston Zoo doesn’t have a ground hog. Ground hogs don’t like the hot and humid tropical climate that we have along the southeast Texas Gulf coast. But we believe Remley is a natural for predicting future weather patterns on February 2 because of her intelligence and adaptability. Our keepers consider all hogs and pigs to be highly intelligent animals and quick learners with a substantial memory.
Babirusas are small hairless pigs native to the small tropical Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Elusive forest dwellers, little is known about the natural history and natural behavior of the babirusa, mainly due to the nature of its dense jungle habitat. Masters of camouflage, the babirusa’s coloration, torpedo-shaped body and deer-like movements enable it to melt silently into surrounding cover at the slightest disturbance. It’s appropriate that the translation of babirusa is “pig-deer.” Babirusas are critically endangered in the wild due to habitat loss and hunting. In 1989 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) rated the babirusa as the Asian pig species in greatest need of immediate conservation measures.