Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Truth About Pigs

When in their natural surroundings—not on factory farms—pigs are social, playful, protective animals who bond with each other, make nests, relax in the sun, and cool off in the mud. Pigs are known to dream, recognize their own names, learn "tricks" like sitting for a treat, and lead social lives of a complexity previously observed only in primates. Many pigs even sleep in ‘pig piles,’ much like dogs. Some love to cuddle and others prefer space.
People who run animal sanctuaries that include pigs note that they are more similar to humans than you would guess. Like humans, pigs enjoy listening to music, playing with soccer balls, and getting massages. Pigs can even play video games!

What the Experts Say

Pigs communicate constantly with one another. More than 20 of their oinks, grunts, and squeals have been identified for different situations, from wooing their mates to expressing hunger. Newborn piglets learn to run to their mothers' voices, and mother pigs sing to their young while nursing.

Pigs have very long memories.
Dr. Stanley Curtis, formerly of Penn State University , put a ball, a Frisbee, and a dumbbell in front of several pigs and was able to teach them to jump over, sit next to, or fetch any of the objects when asked to, and they could distinguish between the objects three years later.

Biologist Tina Widowski studies pigs and marvels at their intelligence: "When I was working with the monkeys, I used to look at them and say: 'If you were a pig, you would have this figured out by now.'"

Scientists at the University of Illinois have learned that not only do pigs have temperature preferences, they also will learn through trial and error how to turn on the heat in a cold barn if given the chance and turn it off again when they are too warm.

What is life commonly like for these social, intelligent creatures?

Pigs are kept in intensely crowded conditions. In some ways, the situation in which pigs are kept is the saddest, because they are quite intelligent creatures. One pig gets the space of about 1/3 the size of a twin bed. There is no room to move.

Pigs in the wild are highly social and clean creatures, naturally friendly, loyal, and forgiving. The pig factory is diametrically the opposite: their stalls are built on slatted floors over large pits into which urine and feces fall, creating an overwhelming stench. The ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide are a serious health problem for the pig's lungs.

Also a serious health hazard for pigs is the complete lack of bedding or soft soil. 100% of factory-farmed pigs (who are cloven-hoofed) suffer infections from foot injuries as a result of constant standing on concrete or metal floors of their pens.

Cannibalism is the reaction of many pigs under such stress, and tail-biting is a common problem. One common solution to this is tail-docking--removing the tail, without anesthetic.

(From PETA and

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