You can find petting zoos everywhere, especially during the summer and fall months when fairs, festivals, and corn mazes are in abundance. Petting zoos are marketed as a fun, hands-on family experience where children can pet, feed, and interact with a variety of animals. Ponies, sheep, goats, llamas, pigs, and even exotic animals like kangaroos or tiger cubs can be found at these establishments. And of course, cameras are encouraged so you can take advantage of those photos ops.

This might seem like a fun and completely innocent way to teach children about animals, but is it providing a true educational experience? Not really. In fact, a survey of 2,800 children at the London Zoo showed that 62 percent didn’t learn anything new about animals or conservation during their visit.

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In the case of Junip Sydney, Farm Sanctuary’s newest pig resident, the community petting zoo where she was born was also a small working farm. According to Farm Sanctuary, the farm’s operators had leased a pregnant pig from a pig farm so that she could give birth at the petting zoo. Junip was the runt of the litter was not thriving. Two of her siblings were also sickly. The farm looked into setting up foster homes for the piglets, under the agreement that they would be returned back to the petting zoo. When Junip was just one week old, three amazing women and one of their daughters started fostering the little piglet and changed her life for ever.

At her foster home, Junip was very loved. She spent every night in a little girl’s bedroom, surrounded by stuffed animals. She was spoiled, warm, safe, and well-fed – exactly how all pigs should live. 

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But Junip’s foster Moms knew the fate this sweet girl had. Upon returning to the petting soon at six weeks of age, she would enter the standard pig-agricultural system. Junip would join more than 300 million other pigs who are killed annually in the United States. 

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Knowing they didn’t have a moment to spare, Junip’s fosters scrambled to find a solution. They knew she would grow up be 600 pounds and wouldn’t be suited to live in their house any longer. 

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That’s when they called Farm Sanctuary. Thankfully, the petting zoo operator allowed Junip to be surrendered to the sanctuary without the exchange of money.

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Veterinarians examined Junip to make sure she was healthy and recommended that she be spayed immediately. Farm Sanctuary’s female pig residents are spayed to prevent future reproductive cancer.

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Once she recovers, Junip will be introduced to the sanctuary’s outdoor area. There she’ll have get to root and build nests all day!  

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Farm Sanctuary notes that Junip is a bundle of joy who loves to be around people. Just like a dog, she has bursts of energy and then quickly falls asleep. Despite the fact that society has painted pigs as filthy, stupid animals, they are actually very smart. They have long-term memories, can communicate through verbal sounds, and empathize with others. Knowing this, we are thrilled this piglet is in the caring hands of Farm Sanctuary’s staff.

Please help us educate the public about the thousands of less fortunate animals by sharing this post with your friends and family.

For more information about Farm Sanctuary’s work, visit their website.

Image Source: Farm Sanctuary

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