“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
This proclamation by the pigs who control the government in the novel Animal Farm, by George Orwell, is a comment on the hypocrisy of governments that indicate the absolute equality of their citizens but give power and privileges to a small elite.
Although George Orwell was referring to people in this book, this significant statement could very easily be applied to the field of animal rights.
Take a pig and a dog for comparison
People treat their companions like humans, allow them to sleep with them in the same bed, eat with them at the table, talk to them as friends, give them names, mourn for them when they die, take them to the vet when they get sick, and buy them various accessories. This is all lovely and shows the human ability to connect emotionally with other living beings. The question is, why do people think that the life of one animal is more valuable than the life of another?
The ‘Pig Who Made It Big‘ is an animal rights book for kids that clearly illustrates human hypocrisy when it comes to animals. The story is based on a real-life experience of a famous actor who adopted a pig after finding out that the pigs used in a film he was working on were slaughtered afterward, which would not have happened if they were dogs.
After filming, the actor was interested in what happened to a pig who participated in the movie. He then found out that the pig ended up on a grill that maybe everyone on set had eaten together. Before that, they were all kind to the pig and treated her as part of the film crew. It was as if they had forgotten this. Unlike a pig on a real animal farm, the pig in the picture book ‘Pig Who Made It Big’ has a happier destiny. After filming, she was adopted by the director. Through the friendship of the pig, the dog, and the humans, the story shows that the pig is a brilliant, social, and emotional animal, even more so than a dog.
Although the author’s imagination attributes some human traits to the pig, many scientific studies have shown pigs to be extremely smart and friendly. People nurture prejudices about pigs, justifying the slaughter of these intelligent and sensitive beings. They are presented as dirty and smelly animals who just think about food and rolling in the mud. This is hardly the case.
Pigs in their natural environment
Perhaps the most relevant people to share information about pigs are volunteers in sanctuaries who spend every day with these animals and can observe their behavior in natural surroundings. One of them is Donna Thomason, who has worked at Ironwood Pig Sanctuary for 19 years. Donna shared an anecdote about how pigs are very emotional animals. All pigs at this sanctuary have names and their own personalities.
Pigs are affectionate
“Pigs feel emotions just as we do. When Louise’s best friend Lucille passed away, she went into a deep depression. For several days, she did not come out of the house they had shared and had no interest in food. Bob, another pig in the herd, went into her house and lay down beside her. He gently nudged and nuzzled her over and over. He stayed with her most of the day then came back the following day to provide comfort to Louise again. After the third day of Bob giving her love and attention, Louise came out to eat and began to slowly get back into the swing of things. The two of them became inseparable after that. It was truly a sweet love story to witness.”
“Another time, a family of six was rescued. Their leader, Clyde, died a few weeks later and was buried in the cemetery at the back of their field. The next morning, I went to the cemetery to place a marker I had made on the gravesite. While kneeling there to say a few words to Clyde, I heard footsteps behind me. When I turned around, the rest of the family was gathered there. It was as if they knew I was paying my respects, and they wanted to as well. It was very touching, especially because those particular pigs were not social with people, yet they had come right up to my side to share my grief.”
Pigs are social and playful
Pigs establish very close relationships with one another. Sometimes it is with relatives, but other times only with a pig or pigs they have gotten to know after coming to the sanctuary. Scientists have found that pigs, when found in their natural environment, are very social and playful animals. While people often use dubious cosmetics to protect their sensitive skin from sunburns and insects, pigs defend themselves by merely rolling in mud. Isn’t that more intelligent than putting chemicals into your body?
Pigs are constantly interacting and communicating with each other. More than 20 of their grunts and squawks have been identified for a variety of situations; from inviting potential partners to expressing hunger. Newborn pigs learn to run at the voice of their mothers, and mother pigs sing to their young as they feed them.
Pigs are highly intelligent
Biologist Tina Widowski studies pigs and marvels at their intelligence. When she worked with monkeys, she would look at them and say, “If you were pigs, you would already understand this.” Scientists have even found that pigs can learn how to turn on the heating in a cold barn, if given the opportunity, and how to turn it off if they get too hot.
Pigs recognize their names, learn ‘reward tricks’ such as sitting down, and lead social lives of such complexity as previously observed only in primates. Many pigs even sleep on each other, like dogs. Some like to hug, and some prefer to have space. People who run animal shelters claim that pigs are amazing. Just like humans, pigs enjoy listening to music, playing soccer balls, and they love massages. Pigs can even play video games!
Pigs can dream
Research shows that pigs can dream. We will never know what they are dreaming about, but we can assume that some of their dreams are certainly about freedom given farm pigs live in horrific conditions that resemble the darkest horror movie ever.
One of the great ways to help pigs is through financial support to pig’s sanctuaries. These places rely on donations to operate, and they do so thanks to generous people and volunteers. At the Ironwood Pig Sanctuary, donating $30 a month covers all the needs of one pig. It would be as if you had adopted the pig yourself.