Stompy: our 150kg 'micropig'
Meet Stompy: one of our residents here at the sanctuary. He's a sensitive, cuddly boy who loves a good belly rub and causing mischief with his stable-mate Inca.
Stompy was just seven months old when he came to the sanctuary. He was sold to his previous owners as a 'micropig' with the promise that he would stay tiny and be the perfect, teacup-sized addition to their home.
Before long, Stompy started to grow. He quickly tripled in size and grew to weigh 150kg. To put this in perspective, that's heavier than a baby elephant!
His owners never expected him to grow so big. With his new size, strength and tendency to bite, Stompy had become unmanageable in their home. They were unable to keep him and turned to the sanctuary for help.
Stompy joined our family here at Pear Tree Farm and found his forever home. His story has a happy ending but, sadly, there are many others like him.
'Micropigs' are also sold as pocket pigs, teacup pigs and Juliana pigs. The concept is, without doubt, adorable but there's no such thing as a 'micropig'. It's not a breed, it's a marketing ploy that has been around since the 1980s.
Breeders use underhand methods to sell 'micropigs'. A common tactic is to show off the tiny stature of its parents who may, themselves, be piglets. With four to five years of growth ahead of them, you can be sure they won't stay tiny for long!
'Micropigs' are, in most cases, pot-bellied pigs which have been deliberately malnourished. A healthy weight for a pot-bellied is around 60kg but breeders use underfeeding and inbreeding to keep them small. Tragically, this leads to a host of health issues: bone deformities, recessed eyes and weak immune systems.
Like Stompy, 'micropigs' often end up in sanctuaries. Pigs need to root and play so soon become bored, destructive and outgrow their owner's home. The myth of the 'micropig' has led to pets being abandoned and sanctuaries overburdened.
There is hope, however. Skepticism is growing and there are hundreds of sanctuaries worldwide, including thirty-seven in the US, which focus on taking in 'micropigs' like Stompy. The popularity of 'micropigs' is on the decline and people are seeing past the deceptive, damaging advertising.
Stompy is happy and safe here at the sanctuary. He used to be quite the escape artist, breaking the goats out of their stables and tearing around whenever he got the 'zoomies'. Introducing his stable-mate Inca seems to have mellowed him so he may have been searching for company. Nowadays, tipping over the water buckets daily is enough excitement for him!
Thank you to the brilliant James Gibson for his beautiful photographs of our residents! You can find his work on Instagram (@jamesphotography), Facebook (@jamesgibsonphotos) or his website (jamesgibsonphotography.org).