You may have had someone tell you pigs are pretty smart animals. If not, you could be surprised to learn that some think their intelligence rivals that of dogs. In any case, what follows is an interesting link and a video showing a pig in action.
Let's start with the video. This pig is called Mudslinger and you'll hear the trainer saying it's less than a year old. It'd be fairly amazing to see a child of 12 months doing what this animal does, let alone a baby pig.
Penn State University conducted research between 1996 and 1998. They showed that pigs can be taught to maneuver a modified joystick to move a cursor on a video monitor.
For rewards of M&M's, Skittles or Reese's Pieces, the pigs moved the cursor over to a target, then used the cursor to distinguish among scribbles drawn by the researcher's grandchild.
The pigs were shown one scribble, then a few seconds later shown the same scribble along with a second. They used the joystick and cursor to distinguish between the scribble they had seen before and the one they were seeing for the first time.
The pigs learned these tasks within 5 to 10 attempts, "very quickly, as quickly as chimpanzees", said researcher Stanley Curtis, then professor of dairy and animal science and now an adjunct animal sciences professor at the University of Illinois.
For more on this research, click here.
But are pigs smarter than dogs?
Both pigs and dogs are quite smart, says Brenda Coe, adjunct assistant professor of animal science, who helped Curtis in the initial stages of his work and also teaches dog behavior in a canine management class. But "intelligence" in animals is typically defined in a limited way, as the ability to learn what people try to teach them.
The point of discussing pig intelligence is that when you consider that the animal which can distinguish between drawings or learn to push a soccer ball into a goal on command is no different from the one trapped in hellish circumstances in factory farms you're left with an inescapable conclusion: The pigs are smart enough to think, suffer and feel miserable.
We eat factory farmed pork without realising what it truly equates to. The life-long suffering of intelligent, gentle animals.