Visiting Pigs Peace Sanctuary

Last Saturday I had the chance to visit Pigs Peace, a sanctuary for abused and neglected animals. A hundred and ninety-one pigs now call the sanctuary home. They, and a few non-pigs, will get to spend the rest of their lives in peace. Old age is something most pigs never see, so living a long life is very special.

Pigs Peace

I went to the sanctuary because Jo Lombardi, a grief counselor, was offering a healing retreat for animal rights activists. Activists are often the people who see the things that others turn away from. We see the damage that others cause, and we know the dire situation that a lot of animals are in. That can be stressful, so having a safe place to talk among like-minded people was refreshing.

Jo is switching the focus of her practice to help animal activists exclusively. What a treat! She led us on guided meditation, a way to de-stress, and gave us materials so we could create an action plan and work toward balance in our lives. We were treated to vegan chili and snacks, and got a chance to share our stories with others.

After the retreat, sanctuary founder Judy Woods took us on a tour of the sanctuary.

A pig poses

We saw a group of pot-belly pigs rescued from a hording situation, we saw pigs who’d escaped slaughter and others who’d been rescued from neglect and abuse. The biggest pigs were 900 pounds! Unfortunately humans have been breeding pigs to be bigger and bigger. In the mid-1800s, a pig on a farm usually grew to 150 pounds.

One thing that struck me is how clean the farm was. It didn’t stink. The barn smelled like fresh hay. Pigs are naturally clean animals and don’t eliminate where they sleep. The barn was a place where the pigs could pile up, nest, cover up with hay, and get cozy. They did their business elsewhere. Of course pigs can’t sweat, so on hot days, you might find them cooling off in water or mud!

three pigs

I was also surprised by how hairy the pigs were. I always pictures “pink pigs” as being hairless. Well the “pink ones” had white hair. Others were brown, black, spotted or two-tone.

Pigs are smart! Smarter than dogs. They’re funny, playful, responsive, inquisitive, and a joy to watch.

We got to throw pumpkins to the pigs. They came running through the fields from all directions when Judy called them. And within a few minutes, two wheelbarrows full of pumpkins were gone!

pumpkins

Next up: Carrots. Judy rang the dinner bell and the pigs ran to the cement feeding area that we were busy littering with carrots. One again, the pigs ate them all–all 100 pounds of carrots!

carrots

One pig, a beautiful gray spotted one, would gather up as many carrots as she could. She walked far away, carrots spilling from her mouth the whole way, and then ate her “stash.” None of the other pigs did that, but she preferred to eat “buffet-style.”

spotted pig

If you ever get a chance to visit Pig Peace, I encourage you to. If you can’t get there, visit their website and look at all the pigs and read their stories. Judging by the amount we fed them, I’m guessing it’s not cheap to run a pig sanctuary. Pigs Peace is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, so consider making a donation.

In case it’s not obvious by now, I want to remind people that pigs are beautiful creatures who don’t belong on a dinner plate. I’m so sick of the cult of bacon. Bacon, pork chops, sausage–they’re all the same. It’s the flesh of a pig. And pigs deserve better than this. They deserve peace too!

And now for your viewing pleasure: pigs!

Visiting Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW

Yesterday I had the privilege of being a guest at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. The sanctuary, 90 miles east of Seattle in the beautiful Cascade mountains, is home to seven former biomedical test subjects who now live out their days in peace and free from harm. It’s not a zoo (it’s set up for the chimps, not for visitors) and I was lucky to be able to stop by.

Young's Hill

I had a hard time imagining the sad existence these intelligent, curious creatures had to endure for a quarter century. They lived (if you can call it living) twenty-four hours a day in a steel cage like the one I’m standing next to. It’s almost the same as me living in solitary confinement in my bedroom closet.

size of cage

A cold metal cage with slats for waste to fall through was the only environment they had. They were warehoused indoors, away from sun and fresh air–all in the name of science. I’ve written before about why I don’t agree with animal testing, and these chimps are seven more reasons why I want it stopped.

The sanctuary is home to Jamie, Annie, Jody, Foxy, Missy, Burrito, and Negra. I visited over the lunch hour and watched the chimps forage for a meal. Volunteers hide food over Young’s Hill, the chimps two-acre outdoor enclosure, so they have an experience closer to how wild chimps find food.

chimps on termite mound

The chimps enjoy lots of fresh fruit and veggies and they enjoyed the sunny fall day, as they wandered through the grass looking for treats. There’s even an artificial termite mound so the chimps can use tools to pull treats out of tubes in the structure.

lunch on the mound

Some of the chimps, like Negra, and possibly Jody and Annie, were born in the wild, and saw their families get slaughtered so people could take the babies–them–to be used as pets or research subjects.

looking for snacks

Others, like Jamie, Missy, Foxy and Burrito, were born in captivity. Burrito lived in a human home for his first four years, but was then rented out to an animal trainer and later sold to a research lab. He’s the very reason I do not support companies or movies that use primates in their commercials or films. The chimps they use are babies who have been stolen away from their families and will likely end up in research when they’re too old and unruly–or simply warehoused and left to suffer alone.

lunchtime

Jody, Annie, Foxy, Missy, and Negra were all used as breeders and had several babies each taken away from them to be used in experiments too. It’s heartbreaking to think about how they must have grieved over their losses.

hammock

When they’re not enjoying the great outdoors (and safely behind an electric fence), the chimps have a great indoor space to enjoy. They play with toys, color and paint, and make chimp nests out of blankets. They’re making up for lost time.

veggies for lunch

This group of chimps came from the same lab and knew each other in their previous lives. They’re seniors now and deserve to live life at whatever pace they choose. Sometimes that means running around full of energy; other times, it’s relaxing in front of the window and watching the world go by,

social time

The chimps have been deprived their whole lives and are at the Sanctuary to heal and become whole again. They’re still very much wild animals so they’s no direct contact with them. They’re finally free to choose how and where to spend their time, and that’s a valuable thing,

chimp on logs

Over 900 chimpanzees are still in research labs around the USA–down from 3000 at the height of primate research. Only the USA and Gabon still test on chimps. You can help wild and captive chimps by joining Eyes on Apes and participating in action alerts to stop testing, poaching, and using chimps in entertainment.

lab cage

May all chimps one day see blue skies, not barren steel.