Some smart sanctuary pigs

My friend Bonnie volunteers at a nearby sanctuary for farm animals. Last weekend, I got a chance to go with her and visit the animals! We also did a bit of training while we were there.

The sanctuary has an assortment of critters, including pigs, horses, donkeys, sheep, chickens, and a few dogs and cats. The majority of the residents are pigs, about 80 of them in total.

Although the sanctuary has a few big pigs, most of the pigs are pot-bellied pigs. Because pot-bellied pigs are very social and smart creatures, people sometimes get them as pets. However, many people buy a cute little baby pot-bellied pig, but are later unwilling or unable to care for the animal when it reaches adulthood. (Adult pot-bellied pigs can be over 200 pounds!)

Most of the pot-bellied pigs at the sanctuary were originally pets, but surrendered to the sanctuary when their owners no longer wanted them. The cute little black pig in the photo above is Chris, a perfect example of an adorable baby pot-bellied pig.

Chris was bought as a pet, but then needed surgery for something that was wrong with him. His owners left him at their veterinary clinic, as they did not want to have to pay for the surgery. The veterinarian contacted the sanctuary, which agreed to take the little guy.

The pigs at the sanctuary are all very sweet and receive great care. They live together in groups and have plenty of room to run around, as well as lots of mud to play in. They are happy to come over to the fence to meet new visitors, and enjoy getting a good scratch or a bit of a treat.

Just as a reminder, please, please do lots of research before you bring a new animal into your life, especially if it is a species that you have not owned before or do not know a lot about.

I did get to do a little bit of clicker training with a pot-bellied pig named Willy Wonka. (He’s the pink pig pictured right above. I’m feeding him some carrots in the picture.) I have a short video clip of him that I will post on my blog tomorrow. He was amazingly smart and caught on to clicker training and then learned how to touch a target in fewer than five minutes. I have not had very much experience interacting with or working with pigs, so this was a lot of fun.

Besides all of the fantastic pigs, I also met Jessica, a large brown donkey who loved having her ears rubbed. Since donkey ears are so big, they must get pretty itchy and waxy. I have yet to meet a donkey that didn’t like having her ears rubbed!

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