Today we’re celebrating the lives of two very special members of our Auckland Zoo animal whanau and inviting you to join us by sharing your memories.

Recently, as some of our regular visitors may know, we said a heart-felt haere rā to our beautiful elderly kunekune pig Neena. This morning we’ve done the same for Neena’s equally beautiful twin sister Alma. Both pigs, who had similar age-related illnesses, drifted off peacefully thanks to the compassion of our skilled vet team and the keepers who cared for them so dearly.

Since arriving at the Zoo as piglets in 2008, these charismatic and irrepressible but ‘chalk and cheese’ individuals could daily be encountered out and about exercising and exploring the Zoo with their keepers - and snuffled, snorted and downright pushed their way into ours and the hearts of millions of our visitors! 

As our Animal Experiences team leader Lizzy describes them: “Neena was the bolshie and determined one. Alma was smart and gentle with big floppy ears. They both loved to snuggle. Together their primary role was to bridge the gap between our visitors and wildlife by getting up close and personal, and they did so brilliantly. In getting to know them, we saw that all animals are individuals worth caring about, and hopefully inspired a greater empathy for wildlife as a consequence.”

Lizzy and team say Alma and Neena had the ability to charm even the most reluctant of pig fans with their display of charisma and intelligence seen on every pig walk, training session or feeding encounter.

“I can’t even begin to imagine how many bits of food have been lovingly stuffed into cardboard boxes or boomer balls by enthralled children or how many of our visitors have delighted in knowing that their mistrust of broccoli is validated and shared by otherwise ravenous pigs. I wonder how many of you got to feel their coarse hair as they wandered around the Zoo or saw the other animals’ fascination as the pigs walked past their habitats? We will miss the breakfast-time snorting, their obvious glee on finding a lawn before mowing day and the sighs of contentment when we stopped to give them back scratches.”  

“Alma and Neena welcomed our visitors as friends and helped us in our mission as a zoo – a pretty BIG accomplishment for two little pigs,” reflects Lizzy.

As we celebrate their lives and reflect on our favourite moments with these girls, we’d love it if you’d celebrate with us by sharing on our Facebook page your stories where you’ve felt connected to our pigs or any of our other amazing animals.