Friday, July 13, 2007

Greased Pig Chases

Despite looking around a bit, I have no idea how long greased pig chases have been going on. I've found an 1859 engraving by Richard Doyle of a greased pig chase (see it for yourself here) but not much other information about them. I remember seeing one myself at a festival at Stone Mountain back in the 1970s, but I haven't seen or heard of one since. This is perhaps more due to the fact that I have lived in cities all my life, as the greased pig contests I've read about on-line have all taken place at rural fairs and gatherings. For example, this image was taken at the Alger County Fair in Chatham, Michigan in August 2005. (The original can be found here.)

There have been several successful protests against this treatment of pigs. In fact, according to PETA, greased pig chases are illegal in Minnesota and Rhode Island. (See their "Ax Animal Acts" page here at PETA Kids.) As they note in their Get Active Center (here), "
Pigs are intelligent, social animals with high cognitive ability. Being chased around or mishandled by participants in raucous greased-pig contests is terrifying for them." I would surmise, then, that these animal entertainments are on the way out and are certainly less likely to be found in urban and suburban areas. Yet one can find advice on how to compete in one of these contests on line as well. In a "how-to" Wiki (here) someone has provided a list of the eight steps involved in catching a greased pig. This advice is also appended: "Chasing a greased pig is a cruel sport for the animal. make sure you're aware of the ethics of such an event before participating. However, also bear in mind the event probably has a significant cultural or traditional origin, so be careful about admonishing people about it."

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