PIG WRESTLING…not sporting, fun, or humane
This resource page was created in response to the 2011 Western Montana Fair pig wrestling “contest.” No such event has been part of the succeeding fairs. Scroll down for articles and advocacy.
In 2011, the Western Montana Fair announced free entertainment: Pig wrestling. A medical clinic was among the sponsors.
Wrestling, as a sport, is contested by two human opponents, evenly matched, each of whom enters into the match voluntarily with mutually agreed-upon rules and a common goal. Not so in “matches” like pig wrestling, where frightened animals are unwilling participants exploited by teams of humans for entertainment. One species’ fun is another species’ terror–is this so hard to grasp?
It’s easy enough to contact a radio station, protest, and switch to another channel. It’s not so easy to change doctors and clinics. Letting sponsors know that we (their listeners, customers, and clients) object to this exploitive treatment of animals is our trump card–along with calling them out publicly, so Other Nations encouraged consumers to contact sponsors of the 2011 event. Remaining polite and offering education is key–it behooves us to assume that decision-makers who involved their businesses as sponsors never gave much thought to the emotional and perhaps physical toll taken on frightened animals thrown in a pen with four humans intent on capturing and dumping them in a bucket while throngs of onlookers scream. Speciesism has a way of making us blind to the suffering of nonhuman animals.
Pig wrestling might not seem terribly important in the grand scheme of things when much greater and more heinous animal abuse and exploitation exist as a routine matter, but small injustices enable larger ones. Every objection (phone calls, e-mails, letters to the editor, Facebook posts, etc.) has the potential to raise awareness about animal exploitation and bring change. In a relatively small venue like this, we can bring pressure to bear on decision-makers who might deliberate more thoughtfully and compassionately in the future when approached to sponsor animal-exploiting events.
Not only is pig wrestling stupid, it’s mean, too. And meanness is not entertaining. Let’s find a civil and enlightening way to relay this message to sponsors, fair promoters, and the public.
OTHER NATIONS BLOG POST: “Pig wrestling: Small injustices enable larger ones” An activist from Indiana contacted me last summer (2013) about pig wrestling at her local county fair; that contact prompted this piece. It includes a short section on another abusive competition at fairs and rodeos: mutton bustin’. Find it here.
8/7/14: “Pig wrestling debate in Stephensville (WI)” includes newscast video, here; Global Conservation Group (animal advocates) here. So this is why the Other Nations pig wrestling page has been getting so many hits from Wisconsin! Later that day…It gets even better. Catholic Online has caught wind of the controversy and is taking the parish to task for dodging inquiries. THIS is why standing up for animals and raising awareness is so critical…it’s the only way we’ll bring about change.
8/2/14 Sainte-Perpétue pig festival condemned by animal rights advocates; Humane Society deems festival’s pig wrestling competition ‘incredibly cruel,’ town forbids protests – here
7/16/14 NW Montana Fair (Kalispell): “Join in the fast paced excitement of Relay Races…Enjoy the squeals and thrills of Pig Wrestling as teams compete in the mud for the championship.” To round out the exploitation, there’s also the odiously-named mutton bustin’ and a full-on rodeo! View entry forms here. Hope some of our Flathead friends are using this Other Nations page to formulate some awareness-raising letters to editors!
7/4/14 – Vimeo mini-documentary (10 minutes): “Hog Wild” filmed at the Viroqua, WI Wild West Days. Watch mini-doc here; see Wild West Day’s hog wrestling photo album here. This year’s exercise in pig abuse is scheduled for 8/16/14.
From July 2013: With summer comes fairs and celebrations that include the cruel absurdity of pig wrestling. The contest rules for the Whitley County (IN) 4-H fair pig wrestling contest say it all:
8. Team must catch and place the hog on the barrel in the middle of the ring with bare hands in 45 seconds or less. NO ARTIFICIAL CATCH DEVICES INCLUDING GLOVES, HOOKS OR SPIKES or UNNECESSARY CRUELTY will be tolerated. Teams will be disqualified by the judges if team members abuse the hog.
That’s right, no unnecessary cruelty! Necessary cruelty, however, WILL be tolerated, because pig wrestling is inherently cruel. To see photos from last year’s event, click here.
Whitley County is far from alone, however. Here’s one more example, this one from the Utah County Fair (linked below).
Rules of the event prohibit anything or action which may cause harm to the pig. The barrel is even partially filled with bedding which pads the pigs rear-end when placed in the barrel. AND…..Pigs love mud!
Yes, pigs love mud–on their own terms and for their own well-being. It’s clear that organizers of these crass contests are feeling some heat; it behooves animal advocates to keep the pressure on. Letters to editors of local papers, guest columns, messages of concern to sponsors, Facebook posts (link to this page!) even outreach efforts at the contest itself–just one person can make a difference. More than one? Even better. Don’t remain silent. (Photo above from nopigwrestling.org; link provided below.)
OTHER NATIONS BLOG POST: “Sheep dressing, pig wrestling, chicken scrambling: Bullies are made, not born” – Yup, it’s summer fair season, when domesticated “livestock” are wrestled, dressed, and scrambled against their will. Kids are learning that it’s OK to bully animals. Click here to read.
8/12/13 - From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: …as entertaining as pig wrestling is sure to be, it also gives city dwellers another chance to interact with an actual farm animal, which is always something to squeal about. “A lot of people come out to see the animals because you don’t get that in the city and you just can’t go to a farm … It’s a good way for adults to see the animals and teach their kids about them.” Um, teach them that they’re sentient? Feel fear? Pain? Deserve respect?….nah. Article here.
Campaign underway against WI pig wrestling-here
Caldron Falls Bar & Grill hog wrestling: Check out the ludicrous text – Never before has there been such a display of skill and strength, brain and brawn, mind and might. …The porkers are clearly in their element, the competitors clearly are not. The whole thing ends up being a tremendous amount of fun. Includes photo album…here.
More info & resources in a disorderly format:
Double D Pig Wrestling out of Greybull, WY is a contractor that provides pig wrestling and greased pig contests for fairs. Visit their website here. Don’t miss the videos–screaming pigs, screaming piglets, screaming humans. It’s stomach-turning.
NoPigWrestling.org: Wisconsin has a law on the books prohibiting organized pig wrestling, but “…does not prohibit events or exhibitions commonly featured at rodeos or bloodless bullfights.” This site is a great source of info. Visit the home page here, and don’t miss the “pigs” tab and the photo page. Note: Site seems to have disappeared!
“Warrick youngsters find hog wrestling a barrel of fun” Check out the handful of skin one “contestant” is gripping–as the pig screams. FUN! Click here.
2011–Slide show: Mud wrestling pigs at the Northwest Montana Fair (Flathead Beacon) (note: seems to have been removed!). Don’t miss the comments–here’s a typical Montana response: “…go back to the city where you belong. This is Montana, where farmers live. Where pigs are pigs, not humans. Don’t like it, don’t go…don’t watch it…don’t read about it. That simple.”
2010–Pig wrestling event draws ire of animal rights group: read it here. Notable quotes: “There’s no necessity to have a gladiatorial display of human brawn against an animal who doesn’t want to participate.” “…pigs have high intelligence and just because they are being raised to be slaughtered, doesn’t mean people can be cruel to them.”
2008– County axes greased pig contest: County commissioners stopped a “greased pig” contest from going forward at a West Virginia county fair thanks to citizen protest. Read it here. Kudos to the man who protested the abuse–AND to Upshur Co., WV!
From Wikipedia: Concerns have been raised by animal rights organizations that using pigs in this form of entertainment is inhumane, since the pigs have no choice in the matter of whether they want to wrestle or not. The wrestling may impose undue emotional stress on the pigs, as evidenced by fearful squealing, and causes physical torsional stress on the pigs’ joints. Some fairs have thus eliminated pig wrestling from their events. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_wrestling
**Pig wrestling? Heck no! from the PETA files.
**Tri-County Fair 2014, Winnemucca, NV - “All proceeds are donated to local Charities (sic) chosen by the first and second place teams.” Charity is no excuse for animal abuse!
**Clueless in Utah: Utah County Fair 2013 – good “old-fashioned” family fun for all ages
**Pig Wrestling on Facebook: Click.
**Dozens wrestle pigs: Baltimore Sun (2008) Quote: “Farmers are struggling. My friend in Pennsylvania added this to his summertime activities and has had great success. The community and church support it, even the Boy Scouts. They draw unbelievable crowds.”
**Is pig wrestling cruel? From the Deseret News (note: article is dated 1989)
And for an unenlightened view from the Hoosier state (2011): A writer at the Greene County Daily World trivializes humane concerns and in a stunning display of inhumanity and illogic justifies the “entertainment” because pigs are raised to go to slaughter. “That is what market hogs do. They are raised to go to market to be consumed.” Sorry, this page has been removed. Hmmm, wonder why?
“I think we’re gonna hammer that pig today. Gonna slam ‘er right to the ground, git all muddy and throw that pig in the 55 gallon drum and…win everything!” Campbell County is in northeast Wyoming. This video is disgusting and difficult to watch on several levels.