Rare pig puzzles visitors to British zoo

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 PM ET

A rare breed of pig is pulling the wool over the eyes of onlookers in a new exhibit at a British zoo.

The three Mangalitza sheep-pigs are turning heads at the Tropical Wings Zoo in Essex. The zoo's education co-ordinator, Denise Cox, told the Daily Mail newspaper the exhibit is part of a program to save the furry animals from extinction.

"At first sight people think they are sheep," Cox told the newspaper. "It is not until they turn around and see their faces and snouts you realize they are in fact pigs."

The pigs are covered in a curly sheep-like coat, which was used in sweaters in the U.K. until a similar British breed died out about 40 years ago, Cox said.

The pigs were found thriving in Austria three years ago. Several offspring were brought back to the U.K. in an attempt to re-establish a herd in Britain.

The wooly blanket helps the pigs survive the harsh winters in their native Austria and Hungary and protects them from roasting in the summer sun, Cox said.

The sheep-pigs are worth about five times that of a normal pig and their bright red, blonde and black hair is still used to make fishing flies.


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