Dr. Anna's Reasons Why Pigs Will Take Over the World

Published: July 13, 2012
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I have introduced the topic of well-reasoned swine-phobia in past blogs and it is now time to expound upon this premise.

1. Pigs are smart. I think on some level the general public realizes the cognitive capacity of swine, simply because our literature has told us so. Everyone knows the story of The Three Little Pigs — that third pig was a crafty one, wasn’t he? At the end of that story, what they don’t tell you is that the third little pig then hunted down that wolf, stole his identity, and went on a Caribbean cruise with the wolf’s bank account and then tarnished the wolf’s professional reputation by placing some morally questionable material on the wolf’s work laptop.

Other more benign swine literary figures include Babe the sheep herding pig, and Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web, both of whom, while cute, still demonstrate disturbing intelligence.  However, don’t forget the most telling of all: Snowball and Napoleon, the power-hungry and corrupt swine from Animal Farm.

Aside from pop culture and literature references, I can also provide you with hard science to prove my point. A study in 2009 published in the journal Animal Behaviour illustrated how smart pigs are. By using a mirror, the pigs in the study learned how to use reflective images to investigate their surroundings and find food. This sort of visual learning demonstrates a level of cognitive understanding specific to only certain types of animals such as dolphins and apes.

2. Pigs have a large capacity to learn. This sort of goes along with Premise #1, but I have an example to illustrate this specific point. One day in vet school during a sophomore animal husbandry class, a small group of pigs was let out into the arena. It was a hot day, and during break someone took the hose off the wall to spray down the hogs. The hose was then placed back on its holding rack and class continued. Soon, one of the pigs walked over to where the hose was hanging, took it off the rack, and squeezed the nozzle in its mouth to spray more water. Some people thought this was cute and entertaining; I was horrified. The pigs were watching our every move.

3. Pigs are omnivores. Pigs can live off almost anything. They have thrived for centuries off food and refuse that humans throw away. They can root in the woods when there are no human handouts. They are practically a self-sustaining population.

4. Pigs have an excellent memory. This combined with their capacity to learn makes them virtually unstoppable, except for the fact that they have hooves. I believe it’s difficult to drive a car or operate a machine gun with hooves. 

In conclusion, I must go back to Animal Farm by George Orwell, one of my favorite authors.  If you haven’t read this classic novel, make sure you do so. In this story of a barn full of animals that overthrow the farmer, it is the pigs that become the leaders. As the political powers of the pigs increase, they become corrupt and resort to editing the list of commandments all the animals wrote together at the start of their freedom.

At the beginning of the revolt, the first animal commandment was, "All animals are created equal."  After years of pig ruling, the commandment changes to, "All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others." 

The first pig I see walking upright toward me, I’m running for the hills.

Dr. Anna O’Brien

Image: pigs in clothing are disturbing by Heather Champ / via Flickr