June 24th, 2016 Animal Welfare, Ethical Pork

5 Ways Pigs And Humans Are Alike

The recent spotlight on pigs as potential harvest for organs has got me thinking about the ways in which our curly tailed friends are similar to us. So here are 5 ways that pigs can be compared to humans and, hopefully, altogether reason not to subject them to the kind of maltreatment experienced in factory pig farms.

1. Pigs can grow human organs

Screen shot 2016-06-20 at 17.31.21
Figure 1: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36437428

I don’t know if anyone remembers the ‘Pig Heart Boy’ TV series or book by Malorie Blackman, but I remember being flabbergasted that a human could host a pig’s heart. News this week suggests that we now can get the pig to first grow a specifically human organ, instead of their own, for us before harvesting it for human transplant. Regardless of your take, this seeming interchangeability of pig and human organs is a huge sign of the similarity between humans and pigs.

2. Pigs are clean

Screen shot 2016-06-20 at 17.31.43
Figure 2: http://www.animalsaustralia.org/radio/lucy_speaks/images/photos/clean_pigs.jpg

Contrary to popular belief, pigs are some of cleanest animals out there. Like us, they naturally keep where they go to the toilet far away from where they sleep and eat (if they’re given the choice!). You might even say that they’re cleaner than us, as they don’t have any sweat glands – though this is the reason they’re often seen with mud on them as a way of cooling themselves down.

3. Pigs are social

Screen shot 2016-06-20 at 17.31.58
Figure 3:http://inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2013/05/pigs-in-pig-sty-537×356.jpg

Someone once said that ‘humans are social beings’. Well, so are pigs. Pigs form close and lasting relationships with each other (and, like us, with other species). They communicate with each other in grunts, like being close to others and typically choose to rest together, often sleeping nose to nose.

4. Pigs have very similar skin and flesh

3d_dotwork_on_lucky_the_pig_by_dotworktattoo-d35yiwn
Figure 4: http://img06.deviantart.net/b280/i/2010/363/3/9/3d_dotwork_on_lucky_the_pig_by_dotworktattoo-d35yiwn.jpg

Continuing anatomical similarity, pigs and humans share very similar skin and flesh. Pig skin is often used as tattoo practice for work on human skin, and those in the know have said that human flesh tastes most similar to pork. Following this, it is claimed that firemen who have witnessed a lot of action often struggle to eat roast pork or crackling.

5. Pigs are clever

Screen shot 2016-06-20 at 17.32.28
Figure 5: http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_facts/Pigs.htm

Pigs are fast learners and good at problem solving. Tests done at Purdue University found that pigs, using a special joystick, were able to manipulate a cursor around a computer screen to contact specific targets. Further tests found that they were able to tell the difference between spearmint and peppermint, recognise themselves in the mirror, and have positive and negative memories.

Factory farming is often rationalised by classing animals as ‘dumb’ and sufficiently below the level of cognition that humans enjoy to be subjected to shocking abuse and maltreatment. That is clearly not true. Pigs are very similar to us, and I hope that by humanising them slightly it is easier to see the fallacy in treating them inhumanely.

Bibliography / Further reading

http://www.veganpeace.com/animal_facts/Pigs.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36437428

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/03/pigheaded-smart-swine/

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