Couple Thinks They Adopted A Mini-Pig, Keeps Her As A Pet Even After It Grows To Be 650 Lbs
Move over ‘Babe’ there is a new piggy capturing hearts across the world – Esther the Wonder Pig. When Canada residents Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter adopted Esther the pig, they thought they had purchased a pygmy piglet, but ended up with more than they bargained for. Two years and 650 lbs later, their “tiny piglet” turned out to be a full-size commercial pig. Despite the massive surprise the love and friendship that they experienced from Esther changed their lives for the better.
Esther not only changed their lives but their lifestyle choices. When they realized how intelligent and friendly Esther was (pigs are as smart as dogs, and considered by many to be even cleaner animals), they couldn’t stomach the idea that they were eating other pigs that were just as smart and friendly as their pet, and became vegans. The couple motivated to help more animals, and in need of more space opened up their own animal sanctuary on a farm. Jenkins and Walters aren’t the only ones infatuated with their big baby, Esther has a 516k followers on Instagram and was named animal influencer of the year at last years 13th annual Libby Awards – which recognizes brands, celebrities, and companies that are committed to animals.
After conquering social media Esther now has her sights set on Hollywood, however, in the past year, there have been some struggles.
Esther the pig was only 3 pounds when Steve Jenkins agreed to adopt her
According to their website, in the summer of 2012 Jenkins was contacted by an old friend to ask if he would be interested in adopting a micro piglet. He knew his partner Derek would be apprehensive about the new farm animal pet, but agreed to take it in anyway – after all, he could take care of the little piglet himself – wrong he was.
Jenkins explained to the Washington Post that he had originally thought owning Esther would be like having a third dog and since he had been promised she would not grow to more than 70lbs. Not only would the real estate agent have to face talking to his partner, but the laws of the town did not permit owning hooved animals.
When Walter laid eyes on the tiny pig in a blanket he was not pleased but it didn’t take long for him to warm up, “The first couple of weeks, we had this baby animal in our house,” Jenkins said. “Anybody that has a bleeding heart loves baby animals; you can’t help but fall in love,” Jenkins told WP.
The first person to tip them off that they had taken in more than they bargained for was the vet, “He told me, ‘I’m pretty sure you’re dealing with a commercial pig here, She could get to be 250 pounds.”
Unable to get in contact with the previous owner to find out more about the pig’s genetic background the couple realized they would just have to make room.
The petit piggy they were promised grew into a 650lb, full-sized, commercial pig. Even with her enormous girth, Esther is a now domesticated house pig. When they first brought her home the pair lived in a three-bedroom house in Georgetown, a hamlet of Ontario, Canada.
“She was incredible from the day we brought her home, super clever,” Jenkins told the outlet. “We’d see an intelligence in her we didn’t even see in our dogs.”
Without any training, she learned how to open doors, cabinets and even the refrigerator. The intelligent pig was even house trained to use a litter box or go outside.
Esther filled their lives with joy but continued to grow and at around 18-months had grown to 420lbs. They were distraught at the idea of getting rid of her.
Jenkins and Walters weren’t the only ones falling more and more in love with the pig. They had started a Facebook page for her and her follower count was growing by the thousands.
The couple couldn’t ignore their growing problem any longer, “We knew what we had to do. How we were living wasn’t fair to her.” It was time to move out.
They found a 50-acre farm located about 40 minutes away from their house. However, the property cost a small fortune – listed at $1 million. Putting their faith in the communities love for Esther they created a crowdfunding site, with a goal of $400,000 to purchase a new home for her. Within two months, they managed to rais $440,000 from 9,000 people in 44 countries.
In November 2014, they relocated to the new Campbellsville farmhouse and named it Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary. Esther was the first farm animal tenant but soon, with the help of animal experts, they fixed the place up and brought in a cow, horses, goats and another pig.
But troubles were not over for the family. In 2018 Esther fell ill and was taken to Ontario Veterinary College (OVC), where they discovered she would need a CT scan. Once again her massive size presented a problem – she couldn’t fit into the average machine.
“We just assumed that they had that sort of equipment and that any university would have that sort of equipment, and so it was a huge shock to find out they didn’t,” Jenkins told the Star. Once again Jenkins and Walter reached out to animal lovers everywhere to help them fundraise to bring in the necessary equipment not just for Esther but the other large animals in the community.
Within four months they exceeded their goal of $650,000, raising an extra $120,000, which Jenkins said was to be donated to other animal charities and rescue organizations. With the necessary equipment, they discovered she had breast cancer.
Fortunately, they found the illness when they did and were able to treat Esther with surgery – and she is now cancer free.
Human or animal Esther and her parents have been through a books worth of adventures – detailed in the New York Times bestseller “Esther the Wonder Pig,” written by her owners.
But it doesn’t stop there. Esther is making her way from the social media screen to the movie screen. The Hollywood film production company the Donners, the producers behind the X-men series and Free Willy are collaborating to turn Esther the Wonder Pig book into a movie.