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National Pig Day: Honoring the role of an underappreciated animal

In a world where celebrations often revolve around human achievements and milestones, there’s a day dedicated to honoring a creature that has been alongside humanity for thousands of years – the pig.

National Pig Day, observed on March 1st each year, is a testament to the significance of these animals in our lives and their underappreciated role in society.

Origins of National Pig Day 

The origins of National Pig Day date back to 1972 when two sisters, Ellen Stanley and Mary Lynne Rave, established March 1st as a day to recognize the importance of pigs in everyday life. 

The goal was not just to designate a day for festivities, but rather to elevate the status of pigs in human consciousness. According to the founders, the pig deserves recognition for its intelligence and domestication – qualities that are often overlooked by many.

Celebrating pigs

National Pig Day is celebrated all over the world but is most commonly celebrated in the American Midwest, where the holiday holds special significance.

In Illinois, a state with a 1.9 billion dollar pork industry, communities come together to honor the pig’s contribution. Meanwhile, even urban centers like New York City embrace the spirit of National Pig Day, welcoming pot-bellied pigs into the Central Park Zoo for special events.

The purpose of National Pig Day 

Despite the commercialization of pork products associated with National Pig Day, true enthusiasts of the holiday advocate for a more respectful approach. They believe that it is important to give pigs a break and refrain from eating pork products on this day.

According to Mary Lynne Rave the purpose of the National Pig Day is “to accord the pig its rightful, though generally unrecognized, place” as one of the most intelligent domesticated animals.

Unique characteristics of pigs

Pigs are fascinating animals with many unique characteristics such as intelligence, emotional depth, and surprising abilities that often go unnoticed. Here are some special attributes and intriguing facts about pigs:


Pigs are considered to be one of the smartest domestic animals, comparable to dogs and even some primates. They can learn tricks, navigate complex environments, and even play video games with more focus and success than some primates.

Social animals

Pigs are highly social creatures. They form close bonds with other pigs and humans, communicate with each other through various noises, and show empathy for other pigs in distress.


Pigs have excellent long-term memories. They can remember objects, recognize other individual pigs and humans, and remember tasks they’ve learned for years.

Sensory skills

Pigs have an exceptional sense of smell. They can root in the ground with their snouts to find food buried deep underground, including truffles, a highly prized type of mushroom.


Despite popular belief, pigs are quite clean. They keep their toilet area far away from where they eat and sleep. The misconception that pigs are dirty comes from their need to cool off in mud because they cannot sweat.


Pigs are capable swimmers and enjoy water. There’s even a famous beach in the Bahamas known as “Pig Beach,” where wild pigs swim alongside tourists.

Versatile diets

Pigs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. In the wild, their diet can include leaves, roots, fruits, rodents, and small reptiles.


Pigs are valuable in medical research due to their physiological similarities to humans. They have contributed to advancements in organ transplantation, dermatology, and cardiovascular research.

Pig communication

Pigs communicate using more than 20 different vocalizations, ranging from grunts to squeals, each with its own meaning. They can convey alerts, food signals, and mating calls among many other messages.


Pigs display a wide range of emotions and have been observed to experience joy, sadness, and even grief. They enjoy playing, exploring, and can get bored, stressed, or lonely if not given adequate attention.

Economic value

Pigs are highly valued in many parts of the world for their agricultural and economic contributions. 

They are efficient converters of feed into meat, and their meat (pork) is one of the most widely consumed meats globally. Their by-products are also used in various industries, from pharmaceuticals to cosmetics.


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