Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 22nd, 2008
The mysterious animal being sighted has not been caught, and thus, technically, it remains a cryptid, it’s identification merely informed speculation.
Colby’s fugitive, however, is believed to be a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, like the above examples. The pot-bellied pig is a breed of domesticated pig (Sus scrofa) originating in Vietnam, with records indicating four are truly indigenous sub-species from Vietnam.
In 2005, the Swedish Agricultural Ministry identified the four original sub-species and their individual traits in a 48 page paper. They revealed that the indigenous Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pig only resides in mountainous Vietnam and Thailand. The Central Plains in Vietnam have mixed large imported pig breeds into the herds of the local farmers. Currently, the Vietnamese government is subsidizing local farmers who continue to raise any of the indigenous Pot-bellied sub-species in an effort to keep the Pot-bellied Pigs from extinction.
Yesterday, news of the reintroduction of the pygmy hog in India appeared here. Now comes word of a possible example of the Vietnamese dwarf breed of pig roaming a Maine college campus.
Talk about free-range swine: This critter’s had the run of the campus for more than a week.
The Colby College campus [in Waterville, Maine] has a new visitor-at-large, and he isn’t paying tuition.
The uninvited guest is a medium-sized charcoal-gray pig, presumed to be male, that has been on the loose on campus for more than a week.
“It’s currently a free-range pig. I spotted it a couple of days ago, grazing on grass on the girls’ softball field when I drove past on my bicycle. It’s about the size of an English Springer Spaniel,” Colby’s director of communications, Steve Collins, said Wednesday.
It is believed to be a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, he said.
A dwarf or miniature swine breed, pot-bellied pigs have become popular as pets. When fully mature, potbellies weigh from 70 to 150 pounds and average 3 feet long by 15 inches high, according to Internet information found at the Department of Animal Science at Oklahoma State University.
The at-large pig was last under human control when Colby students, who were not identified, took the pet pig to a campus cookout, where it slipped its leash, Collins said. The pig was not on the menu.
“No one has had any luck trying to approach it and catch it by hand. Mostly, it’s been in the woods and fields behind the (campus) field house. Somebody said there was plenty of stuff out there for it to eat,” he said.
Pigs are omnivores and can eat both plants and animals, according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Natural scavengers, the pigs have been known to eat almost any kind of food — including insects, worms, grubs, tree bark, leaves, grasses, roots, fruits, flowers, garbage and rotting carcasses
Colby’s assistant grounds supervisor Peter McDonald, said several attempts to catch the elusive pig have failed.
“We tried to catch it a couple of ways, like physically chasing after him and using a net to throw over him. That didn’t work. He is very friendly, but as soon as you think about moving, he shoots right away.
“We actually had him eating out of our hands.”
McDonald and his pig posse have set up two, large live animal traps on campus, hoping to lure the pig with bread and other food scraps from the dining hall.
“I’ve been checking the traps a couple of times a day,” he said.
Waterville’s animal control officer is helping the grounds crew set traps
So far, no Colby student has come forward to claim the pig, McDonald said.
The grounds crew almost caught the pig late Wednesday afternoon, but it jumped into the pond and swam away, said Anthony J. Tuell, supervisor of mechanical and electrical services at Colby.
If it hangs around campus long enough, might this free-spirited relative of “Wilbur” (of “Charlotte’s Web” fame) become Colby’s new mascot?
“We’re happy with the mule at this time,” Collins said.
VIETNAMESE POT-BELLIED PIGS
A BREED of domesticated pig originating in Vietnam with more than a dozen sub-species.
SMALLER THAN standard American farm pigs, most adults are about the size of a medium dog.
UNLIKE OTHER pigs, pot-bellies have straight tails.
THE PIGS are smarter than many animals and are often kept as pets.
Source: “Pig on the lam eludes Colby posse,” by Lynn Ascrizzi, Portland Press Herald, Portland, Maine, May 22, 2008.