Source: Nature: "The Joy of Pigs"
Funding for the VITAL/Ready to Teach collection was secured through the United States Department of Education under the Ready to Teach Program.
This video segment from Nature describes the beauty of pigs. Many people have pigs as pets. Some keep pigs right in their homes. We see two pigs who live in Beverly Hills, California. The owner says pigs make wonderful pets. They are very sweet, loving and intelligent. They can be trained to do tricks and behave properly in a house. If an owner decides they don’t want their pet pig anymore, he can bring it to Little Orphan Hammie’s, an animal-rescue home for pigs.
Science, Animal Studies
The following Frame, Focus and Follow-up suggestions are best suited for elementary or middle school students using this video in an English language arts lesson. Be sure to modify the questions to meet your students' instructional needs.
What is Frame, Focus and Follow-up?
Frame (ELA) When you think of pigs, what comes to mind? What are your thoughts and feelings about pigs? Would you ever like to have a pig as a pet to live in your home with you?
Focus (ELA) Watch this video to see if what the people say changes your mind about having a pig as a pet or if it confirms your original thoughts and feelings.
Follow Up (ELA) Discuss your prior understandings and perceptions about pigs. Then analyze what you saw and heard in this video. Describe how the video and your prior knowledge about pigs fit together. Did the video change your mind or confirm your thoughts? Discuss other times when something you read or viewed changed your original thoughts or confirmed them. Why do you think this happens?
PIG: Can people really love us pigs?
Yes, Tom Altry does. He’s a retired teacher with a passion for pigs-and this one is his pride and joy.
TOM: This is Marshlands Dorothy and she is a Middle White sow.
The Middle Whites are the rarest of all British breeds of pig. In fact, there are perhaps 100 breeding females in the whole of the world. Well, she’s such an appealing thing to me. The breed themselves are so docile. They’re built for comfort. And they have such a wonderful temperament. But above everything else, they have this characteristic face. This lovely upturned nose and these wide tilted ears. That nose becomes more upturned as the pig grows older. There’s no half measures with Middle White pigs. People either say, ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ or they say, ‘Yuck!’ and really, that’s the two responses that you get. I feel they have a beautiful kind of ugliness about them that I find particularly appealing. Beauty I know is in the eye of the beholder, but look at it. That’s perfection on four legs, that. Marshlands Dorothy, second to my wife.
PIG: He’s certainly got the right idea about us. Who else is there? Well. There are always those pigs leading the high life in Beverly Hills.
NARRATOR: This is Maynard
MAYNARD: Maynard come here...
NARRATOR: Maynard lives in Beverly Hills with his owner, Marcy Campbell and his companion, Cecil.
MARCY: Cecil come
NARRATOR: The kitchen, of course, is their favorite haunt.
PIG: Though many people would mind having a pig wandering around their house, Marcy gives them lots of freedom ~ love.
MARCY: I’ve had Cecil for two years, Maynard for three years. They make wonderful pets. You can teach a pig. which one is my favorite pig? How can I choose between these two sexy boys? But, it would have to be Maynard. Maynard is the genius of the two. Cecil’s sweet, but he’s a little bit of a doofous. He’s very skittish. But he’s very sweet. They’re totally different, but they’re wonderful. They’re very loving. They’re highly intelligent. They’re a lot smarter than a dog. You can train the pigs within five minutes, where it takes a dog a few weeks!
NARRATOR: After the family meal, Maynard becomes a pot-bellied couch potato.
PIG: OK, so we’re clever and its a joy to be a pig, but is that the whole story?”
NARRATOR: No, it’s not. Sometimes things don’t work out so well for pet pigs. People change their minds and then want to get rid of them. But, with luck, some end up here.
This is pig paradise for neglected and abandoned pets. Suzie Parkinson, in Solvang, California now has the undying devotion of these pot-bellied refugees.
SUZIE: Come on Caroline, come on Kelly. Breakfast time! ...
NARRATOR: Great Expectations, Caroline, Kelly and the others have found sanctuary at L’ll Orphan Hammies. Suzie struggles to pick up the pieces of their lives ...to give them a little of the luxury they grew up with, and as much as she can of the love that their former owner’s once showered upon them.
SUZIE: PJ was my first pig. I got PJ from a pet store four years ago when the craze was still pretty hot and they were going. They were still up in the thousand dollars. Well—I bought P J and I was told always feed him no more than a quarter of a cup because you want to keep him small. And I was told P J would stay 25 pounds when he was full-grown. And I knew a little better, but being as he was my first pig, I didn’t know everything. So, as you can see, P J is no longer 25 pounds, he was 25 pounds a month after I got him. He’s great.”
NARRATOR: PJ is now 300 pounds. He shares Suzie’s affections with about 35 orphans that she has adopted over the years.
Bad behavior is common among these rejected pigs, but Suzie handles them with discipline and love.
SUZIE: OK play there.
NARRATOR: Suzie knows every one of their sad stories.
SUZIE: This is little Bubba. Bubba came from the shelter in Northern or Southern California. The neighbor had turned him in. They had kept him tied as a baby, which as you can see, it deformed his back and the rope sort of grew into him. The rope was removed at the shelter—it was all the way in his back. So Bubba was released to rescue, and he’s the sweetest little pig. It took a lot of time to pick up trust and when he first came here he was real shy to the touch ...Now you just live for food, don’t you! ...Yes you do... And Bubba’s learned how to kiss. So, that’s Bubbas story.”
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