Best Zoo Animal Houston 2002 - Bo the warthog
Readers' Choice: Monkey
Bo is his real name, Pumbaa his stage name. Our zoo was able to acquire the five-year-old critter from a Denver zoo with a little help from Disney. The corporation felt, not unreasonably, that the Lion King franchise would benefit if thousands of parents dragged their offspring past his pen and said, "Look, it's Pumbaa." An actual warthog, however, offers more lessons than the flatulent fictional beast. Warthogs take no guff from anyone. Not on the savanna -- in their natural habitat warthogs use their impressive tusks to drive cheetahs away from fresh kills. Not in the zoo -- he interacts well with his keepers, but Bo is sometimes shirty with his pygmy hippo neighbors. Though slimmer and leggier than your average pig, the warthog is no beauty and entirely unconcerned about appearance. Most mornings, Bo can be seen trotting around his pen with his puny tail -- in characteristic warthog style -- straight up in the air. Despite his double-ugly name, a warthog is happy as long as he has mud for wallowing and plenty of grasses and tubers for nibbling.