Mother Pig Who Escaped Farm and Gave Birth in Woods Could Be Slaughtered

Animal activists are appealing for a mother pig to be rescued from a livestock facility after she escaped and gave birth in nearby woodland.

The pig was discovered in a wooded area in Nottinghamshire, U.K., by a dog walker who found her huddled with 10 piglets.

The dog walker contacted the Brinsley Animal Rescue charity, which is now trying to persuade the livestock facility to let the pig go permanently.

The pig and her babies have since been removed from the woodland by the farm, owned by Wold Farms Breeding Ltd, the BBC reported. Newsweek was unable to contact Wold Farms Breeding Ltd. Newsweek has contacted Cranswick PLC, a company associated with Wold Farms Breeding Ltd., for comment.

Brinsley Animal Rescue said the farm is a supplier of Marks and Spencer, a British retailer that sells food.

The charity said it believes the pig's natural instincts led her to escape the farm and "is a mother just trying to keep her babies safe."

Efforts to liberate the pig—nicknamed Matilda by charity workers—are ongoing. A local animal sanctuary has set up stable space with food and bedding so the animals have a future home.

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Jon Beresford from Brinsley Animal Rescue told the BBC he has been in contact with the farm but hasn't managed to get them to release the pigs yet.

He said: "Matilda's maternal instinct has driven her to escape from a commercial farm.

"We haven't rescued them yet but we hope the company will have some compassion and allow us to."

Anna Aston, the dog walker who found Matilda, told the broadcaster the pig had "earned her freedom" after escaping.

Thousands of people have signed a petition in support of the efforts.

The petition, dubbing the pigs the "Ollerton 11" after the town in which they were found, reads: "Pigs would naturally live for 15-20 years, but are generally slaughtered at around 6 months old, unless kept for breeding.

"Pigs are extremely intelligent, one of the most intelligent species on Earth… they love to run, frolic and even wag their tails when they are happy and full of joy, just like a dog would."

A 2015 research article into pig intelligence states that "while relatively little is known about the psychology of domestic pigs, what is known suggests that pigs are cognitively complex and share many traits with animals whom we consider intelligent."

It was co-authored by Lori Marino, a neuroscientist who has published work on self-awareness in non-human animals, and published in the International Journal of Comparative Psychology.

The case recalls that of the Tamworth Two, a couple of pig siblings who escaped from a U.K. slaughterhouse in 1998 and were ultimately saved following media pressure.

The case caused a sensation in the country as the pigs spent a week on the run, rooting through gardens. They were eventually bought off of their former owner by the Daily Mail newspaper before being sent to the Rare Breeds Center in Kent, where they lived for more than ten years.

A stock photo shows two piglets in a field. The mother pig in the U.K. is thought to have given birth to 10. anopdesignstock/Getty