Arthur and Olivia were the runts of their litter; too small even to fight their way to their mother for milk. And, sadly, the farm’s owners did nothing to help the piglets and left them to fend for themselves in the fray. Luckily for the little piggies, though, their fates were to be turned around…
The piglets were born in Flanders, Belgium, in 2016 – a region situated in the north of the European country and home to two-thirds of the nation’s farms. Unfortunately, most of these farms operate on a factory scale where livestock is valued purely for financial gain.
Even at a young age, Arthur and Olivia were intended to be sold for their meat. Their mother, however, was kept to breed and would likely have birthed a litter of around 14 piglets. Of course, with so many siblings, petite piglet Arthur was struggling to feed. Olivia, meanwhile, had apparently already given up and was sitting in a corner when the animal rights activists arrived.
And if the farm was like most other factory pork farms, the pigs were likely living in the dark to keep them calm. The mother, moreover, would have been trapped on her side. This would allow her to nurse but not to be able to trample the piglets in the confined space.
“There are pens, and all of the sows are locked inside them and they don’t have room to turn around,” Animal Rights Europe campaign manager Benoit van den Broeck told The Dodo in October 2016. In regards to Arthur and Olivia’s case, he added, “On that particular farm there are more than 500 sows, and the only thing they do is give birth to these piglets all of the time.”
Based in both the Netherlands and Belgium, Animal Rights Europe campaign on a number of animal welfare issues, such as animal testing, the fur trade and the meat industry. Their “Stop The Slaughter” crusade, for example, is an effort to get people to eat less meat and more vegetables.
In September 2016, meanwhile, van den Broeck’s team snuck into the farm where Arthur and Olivia were struggling for survival. “Normally according to the law they have to be euthanized, the weaker ones, but the farmers often just smack them on the floor because it is a cheaper solution to kill them,” he told The Dodo.
However, the group of activists weren’t going to let these two adorable piglets succumb to such a sorry fate. Instead, they decided to save them from the farm altogether. As a result, they placed them into carriers and brought them out into the world for the first time.
Furthermore, the team decided to document the animals’ rescue and recovery, and videos of them as free pigs are truly heartwarming. Especially adorable is the moment when the piglets are allowed to explore a grassy field in the sun for the first time; they seem to need only just a little encouragement to investigate their new world.
Once in good care, Arthur and Olivia were given food, water and the medical treatment they needed. Indeed, the pair appeared to grunt and squeal in delight as they rooted around the grassy field at their new shelter. Though to prevent any revenge for the pig theft and rescue, Animal Rights Europe is keeping the location of the pair’s new home a secret.
“I cannot disclose information about their home,” van den Broeck said to The Dodo. “But they have a new loving home, and are being taken care of and getting the treatment they should have and can live a long and happy life as pigs.”
What’s more, even giving the piglets names was an act of defiance for van den Broeck and his colleagues. “For the industry, it is convenient that the animals do not have a name and remain faceless and are anonymous,” van den Broeck added. “We are trying to give them a face and name so they aren’t anonymous anymore. So people see them as real living beings and not just objects.”
And now that they are safe from slaughter, Arthur and Olivia are doing well. They have both put on weight and are growing up to be fine pigs. And, like many others of their kind, they enjoy nothing more than wallowing in mud and chasing each other around the field.
Indeed, they have since become ambassadors for all animals facing the horrific abuses of the factory farming industry. “They are the face, they carry the message of their millions of brothers and sisters in the Flemish and Dutch piggeries locked up: ‘Do not eat meat. Our bodies are not meant to be your food!’” Animal Rights Europe wrote in a statement.
“We are delighted that pigs have their ambassadors they deserve,” the group continued. “The antics of Arthur and Olivia show that pigs, like dogs, need to run around, to go with their snout explore and enjoy under the sun.” The statement also revealed that the sibling pair are completely inseparable.
“If Olivia disappears from view, Arthur begins to snore so he likes her back,” the charity wrote. “They cannot live without each other. Understandably, if you know what they’ve been through.”
And the animal rights campaigners hope that by highlighting Arthur and Olivia’s plight, they will encourage more people to boycott the meat industry completely. “Pigs are intelligent and sensitive animals,” the group wrote on its website. “The way they are treated in the pig [farms] brings to their physical and mental wellbeing serious damage. Animal Rights calls people to work not with this.”
Nadine Lucas, president of Animal Rights Europe, added, “By choosing [to eat] plant nutrition [instead]… many pigs are spared the misery in the meat industry. [With] our Plant Power campaign, we help people towards a friendly lifestyle.”
“Unfortunately, as long as people want cheap meat at (often) every meal, this is how meat is going to be produced,” another Animal Rights Europe campaigner noted on Facebook. “That is why we urge people to change their eating habits. If you can’t go all the way with entirely giving up meat and dairy, even reducing your consumption will help.”
So while these two pigs have been saved from the meat industry, there are thousands more animals around the world who will not be so lucky. But, thanks to campaigners like Animal Rights Europe, more people are aware of their food’s origin – and, in terms of meat, what that means for loving animals like Arthur and Olivia.