7 Out of 8 Pigs Agree: Mirrors are Nifty Tools
An Animal Rights Article from All-Creatures.org


From Animal Place Sanctuary
May 2012

pig rescue Owen

A recent study showed pigs using a mirror's reflection to access a bowl of food. This is amazing, because I have known some people (NOT ME, I'M TELLING YOU) who can't tell their left from right when looking in a mirror. But 7 out of 8 pigs who had previous experience with a mirror can!

Owen was born in the middle of a busy road. A driver stopped for the screaming piglet, noticing no other pigs in site. e was literally hours old when we drove out to pick him up. He spent his early months in the homes of staff, receiving special 1:1 care and almost hourly feeding. He's now a happy, adult pig living at Animal Place Sanctuary.

The initial part of the study involved exposing pigs to a mirror. Pigs immediately investigated the shiny object, spending 20 minutes just, you know, staring at themselves. This is more time than *I* spend in front of a mirror in the morning, but less time than a previous foster cat would spend (she'd meow at herself for about 40-60 minutes daily, then wander off to meow at me). Each pig would turn his or her head at different angles, assessing their pros and cons from varying perspectives (or so I am presuming).

The second part of the study involved placing the mirror-exposed pigs in another room. This time, the mirror reflected an image of a bowl of food hidden behind a barrier. Although researchers claim the fan they used to disperse the scent was just to hide the source of food, I and all pigs on earth believe it was a torture-device scent from the depths of slor. In any event, 87% of the pigs correctly identified where the food was located. Nine out of 11 pigs who had no mirror experience were confused and frustrated by the mirror exercise. Two obviously kicked some serious mirror butt and found the food anyways. I have no words for the pig with mirror experience who didn't find the food - no one is saying she shamed her pig family, no one is saying she didn't.

So pigs are smart and vain, but not so vain as to care about extra streaks of color on their body. In another study, researchers tried to see if pigs were "self-aware" by applying marks of color on their body. Other species, like magpies, will furiously attempt to remove the offending color when they see it in a mirror. Pigs don't. This is because pigs often cover themselves in mud and thus do not care if you add an extra streak of color to their skin. Also, they are flamboyant creatures and probably think they're trend-setting with black or orange markings. Take that, Flower! You thought you were sooooo cool when you wore a daisy on your head. Yeah, well look at ME, I have a temporary celtic knot on my left shoulder. IN ORANGE! Ha. I think I have showed you who is the most awesomest of pigs. Me.

Or so I imagine.

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