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PIG 
PERFECTION

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HYACINTH

 8 YEARS OLD

Hyacinth is a Yorkshire pig. For the first six months of her life, she lived in constant confinement and darkness. When Hyacinth was surrendered, she was finally able to make her freedom walk into the light. She hasn't looked back since.  

Pigs like living in groups, they have a complex social structure, and abide by a hierarchy. Over time, Hyacinth has ascended the pasture hierarchy and is now the top pig in the herd. Though Hyacinth is the undisputed leader, she is very friendly with her herd mates and humans. Being the at the top of the hierarchy means your dominance is understood and you are treated with the appropriate respect. Basically when Hyacinth speaks, everyone listens. Well, except Hazel. Sometimes she disregards her small size and doesn't listen.

Being able to grow into a full adult body, Hyacinth is the largest of the herd. Like many pigs given the opportunity to live out their natural life cycle, Hyacinth has developed some joint and mobility concerns. Her age coupled with genetics that encourage growth, are contributing factors. However, she lives a full life and receives daily medication to address her areas of concern.

 

You may be wondering how you medicate a pig. There are many ways to make medication a positive experience for the residents. With the pigs, our favorite method is a tortilla with peanut butter inside to disguise the medicine. For Hyacinth, peanut butter is a must have. If there's no peanut butter, there is no cooperation.

 

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GIDEON

 8 YEARS OLD

Before his time at FCFS, Gideon sustained a fracture to his leg. After treatment and care, he was able to make a complete recovery. Gideon is third in the hierarchy. Despite his high rank, he is a little more reserved than his friends. He has a tendency to startle more easily when being approached or waking from sleep. We give Gideon extra space so he can feel at ease and move at his own pace. 

In 2022 Gideon underwent treatment at Auburn University to address mobility issue. We observed Gideon limping and showing signs of discomfort. He was diagnosed with a knee injury. Gideon received immediate treatment and a specialized care plan to aid his recovery.

After spending time recuperating in the medical barn, Gideon's knee was healthy enough to allow him to return to the pasture. With the strong hierarchy of the pig world, we were concerned that his reintroduction would be difficult. Besides sustaining a harmless opportunistic chomp to his bum from Magnolia, one of the youngsters, Gideon was able to successfully reintegrate.

Gideon has a signature black spot on his nose and is known to be very vocal. He likes to express himself and we're happy to listen.

 

   

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LOTUS

 8 YEARS OLD

Though Hyacinth is the reigning queen of the pasture, Lotus is second in line for the throne. She's also achieved internet fame by having a passion for decorating and proudly sharing it with the world.  Lotus likes to take plant life into her house to create a unique and cozy space.

Lotus is living her best life today, but it wasn't always so. In her early years Lotus was used as bait to train hunting dogs. During that period of time she sustained an injury to her left ear causing it to permanently flop down. What looks like a cute physical attribute is actually a reminder of her past. Though her ear was damaged, her will to survive remained intact. The unkindness of Lotus' past hasn't hindered her future. 

Lotus likes belly rubs, meal time, produce parties, and finding the perfect plant life to brighten up her living space. Lotus doesn't just take flowers into her house. When she really wants to enjoy a snack, she carries it into a corner of her house where she can savor the treat in peace. Like most of the pig herd, Lotus is accepting of belly rubs on her terms. Often times when the belly rubbing begins, the pigs will flop onto their side to give us full belly access ensuring optimal rubbing. 

Pigs get a stigma of being dirty. However, they are actually the only species at the sanctuary who do not use the restroom inside their house. If given proper space, the same would be true for all pigs. Their is also an explanation for why pigs take mud baths. Unable to sweat, mud baths can help regulate a pig's temperature.  Pigs also have delicate skin and the mud functions as natural sun protection. Lastly, mud helps to repel insects. As for rooting, this is a natural behavior. Turning up the ground allows pigs to explore their environment. They can also obtain iron from the soil.

 

Rooting, making nests, mud bathing, and using the restroom outside of their living space are all natural traits, but ones that pigs in industrial farming are not allowed to participate in. We're very happy that Lotus and her friends have the opportunity to conduct routine pig business. 

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BRANDO

 7 YEARS OLD

After falling from a truck, Brando was injured and in the street. He was taken UGA. There he underwent surgery and had hardware was put into his leg to correct a fracture. FCFS was contacted and Brando was welcomed into the family. He arrived in a cast and required daily physical therapy. Brando was able to heal and recovered without his long term mobility being affected.

 

Due to the fairness of their skin, like humans, pigs are susceptible to sun damage. Auburn University has removed several cancerous lesions from  Brando and Lotus. The typical site of these lesions are their ears, but they can also be present on other locations of their body. Though mud helps to prevent sun damage, the herd needs extra help. One a daily basis the Care Team applies sunscreen to the pig's ears. Even if it's overcast, everyone needs their sun protection.

Brando is not a fan of of sunscreen time and grumps when it's being applied. Brando doesn't just vocalize to express his dislike of sunscreen, he talks all the time! He's very chatty and an excellent conversationalist. If you respond to him, Brando will return your reply. He will even come all the way from the back corner of the pasture to say hello.

 

Besides the stigma of being dirty, some also think that pigs are unintelligent. However, it has been recorded that pigs have the ability to surpass the intelligence of dogs, can out perform a three year old child in cognition, and can problem solve almost as well as chimps. Whether in Brando's vocal communications, Lotus and Hazel's decorating, or Ewa's use of the hose for fun and enrichment, we witness the intelligence of pigs on a daily basis. 

 

Besides his stunning voice, Brando is also know for his love of mud! He understands the importance of self care and books frequent appointments at the mud spa. As one of the smallest big pigs, Brando is low in the hierarchy. When he wants to flex his dominance, he visits the pot belly pasture and puts on a display of toughness through the fence. Aside from him reminding the pot belly crew who's boss, Brando is playful around his herd. When it comes to humans, Brando is calm and chill and is open to a good scratching session or a massage. 

 

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EWA

 8 YEARS OLD

Ewa is a triplet! The trio were at a farmers market where they were being sold for food. The sisters escaped this fate and were transported to FCFS. Had they stayed at the farmers market it is likely that their lives would've been very short.  Pigs are typically only allowed to live  for 4 - 7 months before becoming a meal. Instead the triplets celebrated their eight birthday in March of 2024.

 

The distinct bands of color on the sisters is indictive of their Hampshire breed. Having such a strong resemblance, the way to distinguish the girls is by the markings on their nose and lips and the color of their tails. Ewa and Olivia live together in the limited mobility pasture, while their sister Eleanor, lives next door in the large pasture. They can still visit and touch noses through the fence. 

Ewa and Olivia are in their own pasture so they can participate in normal pig activities while minimizing the potential for re-injury that comes with the uneven terrain of the large pasture. Having to traverse less land also helps lesson the wear and tear on Ewa and Olivia's joints. 

 

Ewa has no cartilage in her back leg while Olivia is missing a toe due to a necessary amputation. Like Olivia, Ewa has also received surgical treatments. In 2017 she required two surgeries to repair her right rear knee.  In March of 2023 the Care Team noticed changes in Ewa's mobility. She was taken to a specialist to have rear left leg scoped while under anesthesia. The results lead to a diagnosis of severe osteoarthritis. Both Ewa and Olivia receive daily medication for their comfort and their joint health. Ewa is the best at taking her tortilla peanut butter medicine offering. She stands with her mouth open ready for you to drop her treat inside.

While Oliva is sassy, Ewa is chill. Though she has a relaxed nature, Ewa is playful. One of her favorite hobbies is removing the hose from the water through to create minor chaos. She is very friendly to her herd mates and likes to talk to them through the fence. She is also receptive to our affection and appreciates scratches and belly rubs.

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HAZEL

 3 YEARS OLD

Hazel was rescued with her friends River and Magnolia. They were going to interact with people as a form of therapy. When funding for this project fell through the three piglets were going to be sold as food. Thankfully, we were able to prevent that from happening and the three friends affectionately knows as "the littles" now live with the big pigs. The trio are the smallest of the herd.

 

If there was a "busy body" amongst the pigs, the title would undoubtedly go to Hazel. She likes to be on the front edge of all pasture happenings. Even when she knows she shouldn't "bother" the big pigs, she just can't help herself. She's not even afraid of Hyacinth, the top of the hierarchy and queen of the pasture. This is a testament to Hazel's confidence and determination. Many years from now, we predict Hazel will be in contention for top pig.

Lotus has taken young Hazel on as apprentice and guides her in the art of interior decorating. Hazel too will take plant life into her home. As the seasons change and the pasture isn't as lush, Hazel will take sticks into her house. 

Though Hazel loves snacks, if she's comfortable inside her house she may not come out to accept your offering. Hazel does exactly what Hazel wants. We think her quest for information and her sense of self are admirable and we love her adventurous spirit. We look forward to what the future holds for Hazel.

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SEBASTIAN

Sebastian mysteriously showed up on a horse farm and no one knew where he came from. His skin was in terrible shape and he needed soothing baths for comfort.

Pot bellied pigs are typically considered pets and not a food source.  This pet status can is a problem for potbellies. They one of the most frequently abandoned animals. There are multiple factors contributing to this. Sometimes people don't understand the long term commitment that comes with caring for a pot belly, they can live 15-20 years. Pigs also require space to participate in their natural behaviors like rooting, and digging mud wallows. Some people are underprepared to accommodate this need for space.  Then there is the number of people unknowingly buying a pot bellied pig because they are marketed as a  "micro", "mini", "teacup" or "Juliane" breed. Months down the road they realize their dream for an itty bitty pig is no longer a reality. It's best to not support this industry and instead visit pot bellied pigs at sanctuaries. 

The need for placement of pot bellied pigs is overwhelming high.  Sadly there are more request for pot bellied intakes than there are shelters or sanctuaries available to accept them or equipped to house them. Pot bellies are also frequently dumped in dangerous environments in the wild where they lack skills to protect themselves. It's very common for these pot bellies to then be seen as pests by neighbors and become at risk of harm.

 

We're so thankful that this was not Sebastian's fate. Today he is king of the pasture and extremely cordial. He's never met a stranger and welcomes snacks, affection, and belly rubs, vocalizing his enjoyment with happy snorts.

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PIGCASSO

 18 YEARS OLD

Pigcasso is an older man, but he is full of life! He was picked up by animal control in 2017.  Pigcasso had some scrapes, was under weight, and his skin needed medical attention. We were able to help Pigcasso heal. Now he melts the hearts of all he meets. He's at the top of the pot belly hierarchy, extremely social, and will gladly accept belly rubs.

Of the four pot bellies at FCFS, Pigcasso and Sebastian are at the leaders. Despite his elder status Pigcasso's spirit is young and he will not hesitate to assert his dominance. We try to tell him that he should take it easy, but when he's on a mission, he forgets our advice.

Pigs like to make their beds and nest. However, Pigcasso takes it to the next level. He will cover his entire body in straw making it impossible to distinguish him from the bedding. If you disturb his slumber he will express his annoyance through disapproving snorts. Pigcasso is another small resident with a larger than life personality. We're grateful to care for him and hope to see him bossing people around for many years to come. 

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