Paying Homage to Pigs!
Behold! The unique dilemma of the pig: There is nothing that smart that tastes that good. Is it true they're as smart as dogs? Why do some religions require people abstain from eating pork? What's it like raising pigs, and what parts of the pig are overlooked when it comes to eating them?
For some reason, most of the research into pig cognition is don't in the United Kingdom, not here. It seems tied into the British animal welfare movement. They don't mind eating animals, but they want them treated well. So they want to know how their minds work and what they like.
One of the exceptions was the late Stanley Curtis, a professor of animal sciences at Penn State. Curtis conducted a famous experiment in which he first let pigs -- I think their names where Hamlet and Omelet -- learn to move a joystick with their snouts. Pigs get very good at that, very fast. Their snout-eye coordination is pretty amazing. Then Curtis set up a game in which Hamlet could watch a video screen and use the joystick to move a cursor to a small blue rectangle. Then he made the game harder.
We'll tell you the results on today's show, featuring scientists, pig farmers, a pot-bellied pig named Rosie, and big thinkers on how these animals operate.
- Marc Bekoff is a Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and author of Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed.
- Jeremy Marchant-Forde is a research animal scientist for the USDA
- Rev. Dr. Steven Blackburn is the Library Director and Faculty Associate in Semitic Scriptures at the Hartford Seminary. He is also an ordained Christian clergyman.
- Dr. Dorothy A Martin-Neville is an ex-nun, therapist, speaker and author.
- Nevin & Julie Christensen are the owners of Flamig Farm in West Simsbury.
- Abby & Kevin Bassette are the operators of Killam & Basset farmstead in South Glastonbury.
- Rosie is a three-year-old potbellied pig.
Post your questions or comments below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet @wnprcolin.