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Hamlet and Eleanor: A love story

Hi everyone! My name is Amanda B., and I am on the Warthog Care Team! If you have not already heard, we have a new warthog in town, Hamlet! He is over a year and a half old and came to us from Houston as a companion to Eleanor. Introducing new animals together takes a lot of time and patience. We must make sure the animals are okay with their new potential friend before they are together all the time. So, for the first 30 days, Hamlet had a routine quarantine period, which is standard for new animals arriving at the Zoo. This was just to make sure he was healthy before we brought him up to our hoofstock complex to meet everyone.

Before we did any kind of introductions between Hamlet and Eleanor, we had to get Hamlet used to his new digs. Hamlet had a few stalls full of Bermuda hay for a bed and an outdoor space to hang out in. We also had to get him used to his new care team! Hamlet was a little unsure of us for a while, but we gradually started winning him over with some treats of romaine or apple.

Once Hamlet was seen getting used to his new surroundings, we started mesh-to-mesh introductions with Eleanor. This meant that there was always a mesh door between them. We wanted to see how they would react by seeing and smelling each other first without being in the same space. We were looking for some happy grunts and relaxed behavior from both before moving on. When we started the mesh-to-mesh intros, Hamlet perked right up and made happy grunts at Eleanor. Eleanor did not seem impressed and dug around the corral while ignoring him. We did this for several days and for extended periods of time to get them both more relaxed with each other. Once we determined they were both relaxed and okay seeing each other, we started face-to-face introductions!

Face-to-face introductions went well! We gave them a “run around” where they had access to several stalls and corrals so if one wanted to get away from the other, they had plenty of space. Hamlet seemed smitten from the beginning and would follow Eleanor all over the place.  Eleanor still didn’t seem impressed but allowed him to follow her.  There were a few little sparring sessions and grunting at each other, but for the most part everything went really well! After giving them a few days with extended periods of time together, we left them together overnight and since then, they have been together all the time. Eleanor still didn’t want to share a bed with him for a while, but we have recently seen them snuggled together in the morning!

After all those introductions, the final one was the habitat! If you came to the Zoo around that time, you would have seen barriers around the glass to the warthog habitat. We also had a shade cloth up so Hamlet could see that there was a barrier there. Things went really well. Hamlet seemed to like his new habitat and we slowly started bringing the barriers closer then finally removing them. Now both warthogs are on habitat all day.

This whole process took several weeks and a lot of patience, but it paid off for Eleanor, Hamlet and the Warthog Care Team. Make sure next time you are at the Zoo, that you stop by to see Eleanor and Hamlet on habitat!

Amanda B.
Keeper III, Mammals

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