Who would have thought a pig could steal your heart?!
I think you need some background on our “three little pigs” before I can just tell you about my latest training session with our Mini Juliana Pigs, Cinder, Magnolia, and Thatcher.
Eunice, a keeper in the Children’s Zoo, asked me one day for some ideas on what other animals we could get for the Barnyard Bonanza Show. This show is designed for children and the stars of the show are goats, chickens, a dog and of course the kids that are in the audience. My first thought was how much fun a pig would be, knowing how incredibly smart they are.
From that moment on I began researching pig breeds and what kind of pig would be the most intelligent, nice, good with kids, small, clean, and accessible in the Midwest. I finally settled on Miniature Juliana pigs and found a small farm where the owner gets his entire family involved with raising the pigs. After much paperwork and facility checks it came time for Eunice and I to drive to Terrific Teacup Pigs and pick out our three favorite piglets.
After looking at nearly 20 piglets we settled on these amazing three. Their first month at our zoo was in our nursery, where Children’s Zoo keepers and Nursery keepers spent hours with them. Once they were out of the nursery, Eunice and I were with them, nearly non stop. They were just wonderful! Quickly we began off leash training them so they would follow us around the zoo, as we knew they needed quite a bit of exercise. Before long they were out with the visitors, walking the entire loop of the zoo and loving it!
Then there came a time when Cinder, our little orange pig, was getting picked on. He couldn’t be left with his siblings and knowing pigs don’t do well alone, there was only one option… he had to come home with me! Good thing I live on zoo property! So every night he stayed with me and came back to the zoo each day to try to get re-acclimated with his siblings. It took a few months before all the siblings were happy together, but let me tell you, I didn’t mind having him at home with me at all! He was a wonderful companion and got along very well, even with my dog.
Now the pigs can be seen walking in the zoo nearly every day (as the weather allows) and are also everyone’s favorite animal in the Barnyard Bonanza show!
In cold weather, Eunice and I take them into our large building, called the Club House, where we can work on recall training, asking them to come when called. The pigs LOVE Eunice and every time she talks they are all ears and headed her way. However, Cinder will always have a special place in my heart!