Warthog He'd Raised From Birth Turned Murderous

Austin Riley tells his story to 'Texas Monthly'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2024 12:15 PM CST
Warthog He'd Raised From Birth Turned Murderous
Stock photo.   (Getty / EcoPic)

Austin Riley has spent years on his family's ranch in the Texas Hill Country, caring for and spending time with the animals. In 2017, when a warthog piglet's mother died in childbirth, Riley immediately took over, bottle-feeding the newborn and letting it sleep inside the family home until the weather got warm enough to move the animal outside. He named it Waylon, and over the next few years, the two were best friends. Which is why it came as such a shock one night in October of 2022 when the warthog—"an animal built to battle lions"— attacked Riley out of nowhere, nearly killing him, the Riley family recounts to Peter Holley of Texas Monthly.

Riley, who'd cheated death a number of times already—he'd had multiple risky brain surgeries in childhood after a tumor was discovered; in his mid-20s, a brain hemorrhage was almost fatal—survived the brutal attack, but barely. Waylon had never before showed any signs of aggression; he sometimes fell asleep on Riley's chest, and Riley passed hours in Waylon's pen or took him out on drives. Twenty minutes before the attack, Waylon had greeted Riley happily as usual as he entered the pen. After feeding a pot-bellied pig in an adjacent pen and re-entering Waylon's enclosure, Riley suddenly found the warthog coming at him relentlessly. "I can't forget his eyes, the way they were locked in to kill," he says. It's a mystery to this day why Waylon—who was euthanized the next day—turned violent. Read the full, gripping story here. (More Longform stories.)

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