America’s rarest pig, the mulefoot hog, is now at the Queens Zoo farm.
The trio of female mulefoot hogs living at the zoo represent fewer than 200 members of a once vibrant breed.
Listed as critically rare by the American Livestock Breeds Conservatory, the hairy black pigs feature the solid hoof of a mule, rather than the typical pig’s cloven hoof.
This characteristic, a mutation found in some pigs, keeps mulefoot hogs free of foot rot, which made them desirable for early American farmers in the Midwest.
Farmers bred mulefoot hogs in the late 1800s to create a hardy forager that would produce quality ham, the conservatory said.
Slow Food USA noted that the shift in the late 1900s to feeding hogs in pens rather than the field changed the qualities farmers looked for in pigs and began the decline of the mulefoot.