You almost can’t blame Paris Hilton for wanting one. After all, breeders depict now trendy “teacup pigs” as ideal pets — both highly intelligent and cuddly — and lead potential owners to believe their pigs won’t get much bigger than the promotional shot of them snuggled up in mugs.
But when the starlet bought one earlier this fall, animal rights groups weren’t thrilled. It’s not that some pigs can’t make great pets in the right situation, but like many other animals advertised as “miniature,” “toy,” and “teacup,” these pigs can have problems.
“It’s a marketing scheme,” says Yvonne McIntosh, “Piggy Paradise” manager at Best Friends Animal Society, a Utah sanctuary. “I was floored when all of the sudden the word ‘teacup’ was in front of pigs. It gives people an image of a very small pig — they will not stay small. It takes them five years to reach mature size.”
That size can be up to 150 pounds, at which point many overwhelmed owners end up turning them in to shelters or bringing them to rescues such as Best Friends. And McIntosh predicts more surrendered pigs as celebrities pose with them: “It’s a huge problem. People look up to celebrities and go out and buy these pigs without educating themselves. Then the pig gets dumped.”