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Pigs are talking, and here’s why we should be listening: Research suggests that the sounds they make are significant, conveying important information about their well-being and response to their environment. This sounds like common sense to those of us who have spent time at sanctuaries, and science is finally catching up.
Researchers at the University of Lincoln found that pigs’ grunts vary based on their personalities and circumstances. The behavior of 72 young males and females was observed in different environments; half were placed in “enriched” pens, and the other half in more “barren” pens.
The scientists observed their oinks and grunts, determining that pigs with proactive personality types vocalized more and at a higher rate than their reactive companions.
Overall, the study showed that their grunts are meaningful. In other words, we may not understand what they’re saying, but they are in fact communicating with each other.
Lead researcher Dr. Lisa Collins said, “The sounds they make convey a wide range of information such as the emotional, motivational and physiological state of the animal. Squeals are produced when pigs feel fear, and may be either alerting others to their situation or offering assurance. Grunts occur in all contexts, but are typical of foraging to let other members of the group know where they are.”
Other studies have revealed the remarkable intelligence of these porcine animals. Neuroscientist Lori Marino of Emory University told The Daily Mail, “We have shown that pigs share a number of cognitive capacities with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and even humans. There is good scientific evidence to suggest we need to rethink our overall relationship to them.”
Pigs are highly social. They can learn what a mirror image is. They have empathy and can learn from each other in groups. They have excellent long-term memories. They can even do puzzles!
Pigs are even smarter than our beloved canine companions, who really aren’t so different from playful pigs. Yet most pigs are forced to live in gruesome conditions on factory farms, subjected to horrific abuse like confinement in gestation crates and castration without anesthesia), all before being sent to slaughter when they’re still babies.
There are plenty of delicious plant-based alternatives to your favorite pork products. So please think about leaving the little piggies off your plate, and visit TryVeg.com for tasty, pig-approved recipes.
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