“Our results suggest that pigs can develop quite sophisticated social competitive behavior, similar to that seen in some primate species.” — Dr. Mike Mendl, Bristol University
On farm sanctuaries, pigs are playful and social; they enjoy running, socializing, relaxing, and playing in the mud. Like dogs, they recognize their names and come when called (if they like you). As scientific advisor to the British government Dr. Donald Broom explains, pigs “have the cognitive ability to be quite sophisticated. Even more so than dogs and certainly three-year-olds.”
Indeed, pigs are the smartest of the barnyard animals. As just one example, pigs have been taught to play video games. Wired reports that “pigs could be as smart as chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates,” says Stanley Curtis, former professor of animal sciences at Pennsylvania State University. Curtis says that the pigs learned to play games every bit as quickly as [chimpanzees]. In fact, “Hamlet and Omelette exhibited more interest in the task at hand than their primate cousins…”Animal cognition researcher Dr. Sarah Boysen notes that “pigs are capable of focusing their attention with even more intensity than a chimp.”
Similarly, pigs are also emotional beings, just like humans. For example, the UK daily The Independent writes that researchers “taught pigs to give one response when they felt normal and a different response when they were anxious (in this case, they were given a drug designed to induce temporary anxiety). Not only could the pigs discriminate between these two states but later they made the same ‘anxious’ response when exposed to novel events such as an unfamiliar pig or a new pig pen.”
Finally, pigs are socially quite advanced, exhibiting methods of interaction with one another observed previously only in primates. A story from the Press Association titled “Pigs ‘share brain skills’ with humans and primates” discusses research from the University of Bristol (UK) that found that “pigs use their brains to outwit each other in much the same way as humans and chimpanzees. For instance, they were able to learn to follow other animals to desired items such as food before stealing away the prize. Victims of such thefts responded by behaving in ways that lessened the chances of being followed.” As Dr. Mike Mendl explained, “Our results suggest that pigs can develop quite sophisticated social competitive behavior, similar to that seen in some primate species.”
Farmwatch are committed to investigating and exposing the suffering that pigs are subjected to on farms and in slaughterhouses throughout New Zealand and rescuing pigs where we can. Farmwatch are also committed to advocating for all animals to have the opportunity to live a full, natural life; free from suffering and slaughter. Farmwatch advocate a lifestyle free of all animal products; pigs are not there to produce food products, they are individuals capable of feeling and suffering.
A pig's life is as important and irreplaceable to them as ours is to us. It's time for us to change the way we see pigs and all animals, to stop thinking of them only as food and to start viewing them for who they are: individuals with their own interests who deserve respect and freedom.
Adapted from Farm Sanctuary website.
Farmwatch's Advocacy for Pigs
Canterbury Pig Farm Investigation
Farmwatch investigated a pig farm in Canterbury and documented the appalling conditions. Read more >>
Farmwatch actively campaign for the freedom of pigs.
Find out about pig farming in New Zealand here.