Loving, intelligent – ‘Micropig’ is the new pet craze
Jane Croft,with a baby micropig
London, Sept. 18
Pigs – they’ve been the subject of many a children’s story, but somehow that “cute portrayal” has rarely translated into domestic life, with the prospect of a 200- kg giant traipsing round a home proving too daunting for even the most enthusiastic of animal lovers. Now, thanks to a new craze for “micropigs” sweeping across the United Kingdom, that could be about to change.
In the next couple of weeks, “This Little Piggy: A Celebration of the World’s Most Irresistible Pet,” launches in the UK, with serialisations in a couple of leading dailies, and television programmes, with detailed information on the history and care for these creatures, which can grow up to just 16 inches. Author and owner of the high profile Little Pig Farm, Jane Croft hopes that this will be the start. While a range of merchandise already exists, she’s hoping to take it into designer bags, a large visitors centre – and in the long term – branches in every country across the world.
Micro pigs, originally imported from Vietnam, have been around for a couple of decades, but interest had died down in recent years – rapidly reviving as a result of Croft’s farm, which has already attracted hundreds of buyers and franchisee requests from across the world since being set up in April 2009. Her hopes of building a global business have already begun to become reality: this year franchisee farms, run by trusted associates of Croft, will be set up in Japan, Korea, Canada and the US, as well as a number across Britain.
Intelligent than dogs
While the pig protagonists of books such as A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, or E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (not to mention the film Babe) help the “family” appeal of pigs, they have other qualities that make them attractive pets, says Croft. Allergy-prone people are less susceptible to the hair of pigs than the fur of dogs and cats, for example. “They are also extremely intelligent…far more intelligent than dogs,” says Croft, who has several of the animals pottering around her kitchen and living room. Pigs’ intelligence has of course been picked up in literature, with characters such as the villainous Napoleon of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. However, this characteristic is something that troubles animal rights campaigners.
“It is important for people to be aware of the fact that pigs are highly intelligent and social animals,” says Helen Coen of the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals. “The fact that these micro pigs are being marketed as an “easy” option is worrying in itself…” However, Croft insists that while some rogue breeders may give the industry a bad name, she’s always careful to vet prospective owners (and has already turned down several)– ensuring that the homes must have large outdoor space and that pigs are left alone for excessive periods of time (working owners must have at least two to ensure that the animals have company).
Either way, the pigs don’t come cheaply, starting at £550 pounds, and going up to £1,200 for the smallest 14-inch “deluxe” pigs. For those hoping to start their own business – Croft’s pigs aren’t the solution, though – it’s only neutered males that are up for sale. There’s also a waiting list of up to six months.
To some it’s a price worth paying. “They are the incredibly affectionate, easy to look after and the cheapest thing to maintain,” says Suzanna Bowman, owner and manager of a pub in the county of North Lincolnshire, with five micropigs on her five-acre plot of land (and home). Whether such rosy experiences of the pigs will convince buyers across the world remains to be seen.
Posted: Just One More Pet
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