Connell Flyer 2

PLEASE NOTE: The following is a reproduction of a flyer printed in the 1980’s by the Connell family. It has been retyped and set into HTML code to allow for faster loading, and so the type and layout is slightly different from the original. Please be aware that this page is Copyright © 1998 by Pigs As Pets Association, Inc. and the text and photos are used by permission of Mrs. Keith Connell and are NOT to be reproduced. We are sorry that, because the flyer was folded for over ten years, some of the pictures show creases.


Keith Connell doesn’t beam with pride when he looks at his newly-acquired brood of Vietnamese Pot-bellied pigs; he laughs out loud.

“You just can’t help but smile when you look at them,” he says. “You have to wonder what the “big man’ had in mind when he put them on this earth.”

The brunt of the comments are 17 young pigs Connell just brought over from Europe.

“Welcome to the pot-bellied pig capital of Canada,” he says, chasing the stubby creatures from a corner in preparation for their first photo session.

In Vietnam the animals are kept as livestock and supply a major source of protein for the national diet.

On this side of the Pacific Ocean and in Europe they are valued less for their meat than for their potential as zoo attractions. Their appearance is a sure-fire child pleaser – short legs, squinting eyes, large snouts, hairy coats and bare sagging bellies.

Bowmanville Zoo is famous for the success of its selective breeding programs, especially with hooved animals and exotic birds.

Connell plans to breed his pigs when they have grown to maturity, but before they manage to eat him out of house and home. An overweight condition ruled out breeding the pair of pot-bellied pigs he had five years ago.

Most of the new arrivals, four males and 13 females, will find homes in other zoos. “There probably isn’t a zoo in North America that won’t be interested in them,” Connell says.

The Bowmanville porkers are also some of the best travelled anywhere in the world. They were purchased in Northern Europe, and that is all Connell will say about their place of origin. After 10 years of trying to buy a good lot of the animals “I got awfully lucky,” he says.

A problem with transfer permits at New York after a flight from Stockholm resulted in the pigs being loaded back aboard a jet in their wire mesh cages and returned across the Atlantic. Later, with proper documentation, they landed back in New York and connected for a flight to Mirabel Airport in Montreal.

The immigrants spent the next month in quarantine, being cared for by Canadian government veterinary staff.

The final leg of their journe y was a ride down Highway 401 in Connell’s truck.

Having rested up from their trip, the pot-bellied pigs are now on view at Bowmanville Zoo.

The perils aren’t entirely over. It seems little pot-bellies are particularly sensitive, and Connell says, “We’ll have to be careful to see that they don’t get sunburned.”

HOG WILD   .   .   . THE ZOO’S

By Robin Garr

They squeak like a child’s squeeze toy. Their flabby bellies almost drag on the ground. Their wagging tails lack the traditional curl, and they have squashed-in faces that only a mother could love.A mother pig at that.

But keepers at the Louisville Zoo say the zoo’s four new Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs — yes, that’s the name — are drawing crowds of spectators who seem to find the wrinkled little beasts adorable.

“They’re so ugly, they’re cute,” said mary T. Duane, the zoo’s director of external affairs. “Some people think they’re miniature rhinos.”

Part of the appeal of the animals may be their small size, said Val Haft, small-animal-area keeper in charge of the pig’s quarters.

The 7-month-old pigs are close to their adult weight of 60 to 70 pounds — only about one-tenth the size of mature domestic swine.

Some find them curious because, although they are common in the jungles and farmyards of their native Southeast Asia and have been displayed in some zoos in Europe and Canada, the spoecies hasn’t been seen in U.S. zoos until now.

Under special dispensation from federal regulations that strictly limit swine imports, the Louisville Zoo and four other zoos in this country received colonies of the animals in February.

The Louisville Zoo purchased its four from the Bowmanville Zoo in Ontario, Canada.

Because the tropical species doesn’t thrive in temperatures   below   60   degrees,       the   four

— Wilbur, Homer, Bonnie and Lulu — weren’t put on display until recently. Now they’re in a grassy enclosure in the zoo’s small-animal area, where petting is allowed.The Vietnamese pigs, like domestic swine, will eat just about anything placed before them, Haft said. Until a feeder for wandering turkeys was moved out of the pig pen, she said, the greediest of the group was getting overweight from pigging out on bird seed.

With that temptation removed, the quartet seems to be thriving on a mixture of commercial pig chow, apples, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and carrots.

The pigs require some care in addition to being fed and kept warm, Haft said. Their sparsely haired hides sunburn easily, so it’s sometimes necessary to run them inside at midday. Keepers must squirt their backs with mineral oil several times a week to help keep their skin from drying out.

Like domestic pigs, the Vietnamese oinkers roll in the mud to stay cool, but they’re clean and almost odor-free. Their mud wallow is limited to a back corner of the enclosure, Haft said, “so they won’t root up the whole pen.”

Now that the pigs are almost mature, it probably won’t be long before the enclosure is filled with the pitter-patter of little pig feet, Haft said. The animal’s gestation period is less than four months, so litters of Vietnamese pot-bellied piglets are expected by fall.

Because demand for the species is increasing in this country, the Louisville Zoo probably would sell or trade the piglets to other zoos, Haft said.

“We like have them because we didn’t have any swine before,” she said.

“And they’re just plain cute,” Duane said. “Apparently everybody enjoys the oddity of a petite little pig. And they’re so friendly   .   .   .   they’ll come right over and let you pet them.”

This page was created and designed by PIGS AS PETS ASSOCIATION, INC. on October 24, 1998.

Copyright © 1998, Pigs As Pets Association. All rights reserved.

Pictures and text used by permission of Mrs. Keith Connell and are NOT to be reproduced.