Sweedy was a fine example of the best of warthog-dom, described by keeper Georgia Dittoe as having a “great expanse of flat face fully occupied by a number of elaborate if unlovely features,” including “a pair of seven-inch tusks that curve upward jauntily….” Sweedy weighed 300 pounds, but he could be “fleet and nimble as a mountain goat, leaping from ledge to ledge with much energy if little grace.”
Georgia admired Sweedy, but she knew to be wary of him as well. When she went in to the warthog enclosure to clean, she made sure Sweedy and his mate were in their sleeping quarters, munching on barley. But if Sweedy were to join her out front, she “kept an anxious eye on his barometer—his tail. Whenever I saw that his tail was striking straight up I decided the cage was sufficiently clean….” Keeper and warthog developed an understanding over the years, but if someone new were to come by and call for Georgia while she was in the enclosure, “it is a truly horrendous Sweedy that charges out…he snorts and hurtles about like an express train. He has never intentionally charged me; it may even be that he is only coming out to me for protection. But that will have to remain conjectural as I shall never tarry to ascertain his intentions….”
Sweedy never paid attention to his detractors, seeming quite confident in his warthog good looks. But Georgia did get a taste of the insults often thrown his way. One day when she was cleaning in the enclosure, a mother and son walked up. Seeing no animal, the mother walked on, but the son was puzzling out what the sign said. Then he stared at Georgia incredulously. As she described it, “Finally he called out in a loud, clear voice to his departing mother, ‘Mommy, Mommy, is that the wart HAG?’” Ouch!