Tina the pig lived at Freightliners city farm in Holloway before suffering a tumour in her gut
Published: 8 June, 2012
by PAVAN AMARA
SHE was an ugly pig who learned to nod and shake her head “yes” or “no”, bark like a dog, chase cats and open sealed boxes – and who perhaps turned more than a few people to vegetarianism. Now Tina, the star attraction at Freightliners city farm in Holloway, has died.
She was put to sleep on Saturday, six months after being diagnosed with a tumour in her gut.
“Hopefully she is wandering around the big orchard in the sky, heating up apples for dinner and rolling around in the muck,” said Liz McAllister, the farm manager who trained Tina when she first arrived as a six-week-old piglet.
Tina was named after the manager’s wife on the Kent farm where she was born. The farm had too many piglet and Freightliners needed one.
At one-year-old Tina had learned to nod yes and shake her head to say no, she had learned to “bark just like a dog when she didn’t like something”, and could singlehandedly open sealed boxes of food with her snout.
Aside from that, she had developed a fan club. As one of the most sponsored animals on the farm, she had eight people step up to financially support her throughout her lifetime.
“She was really something of a celebrity,” Liz added. “She got used to camera lights flashing at her constantly, and she loved it. I remember once a school child said in front of her ‘Ah this makes me feel guilty about eating sausages’ and I could see her sitting there thinking ‘Guilty? I would have been far more flattered if you’d said it made you feel like never eating sausages again’.
I’m sure she turned a few people vegetarian before she died.
“She was ugly for a pig, so ugly that it was cute, and that worked to her advantage, people’s hearts went out to the ugly piglet rather than if she’d been more regal looking. Her squashed little face endeared people, they wanted to look after her.”
Before visitors arrived, Tina would have a morning mooch with fellow pig Tamara.
“Tina was the louder, more mischievous one. Tamara was the spectator,” Liz said.
Despite enjoying a snoop in the compost fields when she was young, Tina took to lying in the shade with Tamara in her old age, but not before a fiery streak showed itself.
“They used to live in the same pen, but Tina ended up getting very easily annoyed by anything Tamara did, and they’d often get into a fight,” Liz said. “They would both come out of that with a few grazes here and there. But they couldn’t be without each other, and when we put a fence between them, they would chatter over it. Now Tamara is stunned, she keeps putting her nose through the fence into Tina’s section and wondering why they can’t do nose to nose kisses anymore. It was a love/hate relationship, but there was love.”
Tina wasn’t all sweetness. One afternoon in the middle of a nap a class of eight-year-old schoolchildren disturbed the over-sensitive pig.
“She ran over to the wallow, bathed herself, and then before I could stop her she shook herself and covered the kids in her muck. I know she found it funny because afterwards she stood there very proudly admiring her work. It was deliberate because she did it so fast I couldn’t stop her. But the kids loved it, she was a pig with character.”
Tina had good health all her life until she collapsed at Christmas. After going off her food and a second collapse in May, a doctor diagnosed the fatal tumour.
“We had to put her down because it was kinder. We couldn’t bear to see her in pain,” Liz said.