Today, I was thrilled to visit Curly Tails Pig Sanctuary. A true a haven for rescued pigs in Newton Longville, Bucks.
This small charity based just outside Milton Keynes is home to around 28 pigs who can no longer be kept by their original owners. Some have been abandoned, some need a new home due to a change in the owners’ domestic circumstances, some, unfortunately have been neglected, abused or mistreated.
I was taken around the sanctuary on a personal visit by the inspirational founder and owner Jane. From small beginnings of keeping several pigs of her own she has used the land behind her own house to care and look after unwanted pigs. The love she has for these highly intelligent animals shines from her and the depth of her knowledge was apparent as she explained to me more about these creatures.
The excited squeaks and snorts began as soon as we approached each enclosure with treats of buns, carrots and bread. Probably like myself it seemed to be that buns were the preferred option! Jane is happy, with advanced notice, to take small groups around her sanctuary, for an appropriate donation. The money raised is used for keeping the charity open, looking after the pigs and putting her husband to work, buying more materials, and building yet more pens for further rescued creatures. That man must have built up some muscles hammering in all those fence posts!!
I learnt more about the species in an hour than I had learned in over half a century. I did not realise how clean they are and that they do not soil their own sties. She explained how one had learnt a knack for climbing up the fence around her pen. I didn’t realise that male pigs grow tusks – this is probably because this only happens in maturity and most have already been sent for meat before that stage in their lives and I doubt I had seen a boar of that age before.
One thing which really amazed me was how BIG “micro pigs” and Vietnamese Pot Bellied Pigs grow to be ! I myself have seen cute dinky little pictures of floppy ears and curly tails and exclaimed :”Ah, aren’t they sweet – can we have one?” – in a half-hearted way at times – fortunately knowing that I do not have the time or dedication to look after such a creature in reality.
One of Jane’s hopes in showing visitors around the sanctuary is to educate them about the pigs; the work involved in keeping them and how very big they do indeed grow. The pigs are like personal friends to her; all have names ranging from Nigella, Eric and Ernie, Mavis, Muriel and of course – Pinky and Perky. They live in sties with names such as “The Ritz”, “Hilton” and “Luxor”. It costs over £600 a year to look after each of the rescued animals and it is possible to sponsor one of your own for a really reasonable fee. She is hoping for an increase in sponsorship and support for the charity generally so that more rescued pet pigs may be saved to live out their lives in a contented way.
Curly Tails Pig Sanctuary is one of only a handful in this country and Jane’s passion and calling for her work were inspirational. She is following her heart and the authenticity and success of her endeavours is apparent. This was for me a wonderful visit to a slice of the “real” world, away from the commercial bustle of the MK Shopping Centre and confirmation that it is possible to follow one’s dreams.