Animal activism comes in all shapes and sizes. For most just eating a plant-based diet is sufficient. But not for Alicia Day, 31 originally from New York currently living in London. She went vegetarian aged 12 and vegan a year ago.
When she saw an online advertisement attempting to sell an eight-week-old pig to another farm for eventual slaughter, she duly obliged. She went down to Exeter, paid £30 and then spent a further £400 taking the pig on a taxi ride back to London, even though it is illegal to transport pigs in cars, and to her home in Southall, London.
Jixy Pixy, as her new owner called her, quickly became part of the household. To all intents and purposes as for as Ms Day was concerned, it was just like having a dog.
She took her for walks, on trains and even to Wagamamas. The sight of the young American walking her pet pig become caused quite a commotion around Southall and Ealing Broadway where she was often to be found. Crowds would gather to see the unusual sight.
“Since I was a child I thought pigs were really cute. I guess I realised that I’m an adult now and I don’t have to ask my parents permission – I can basically do what I want,” said the master’s graduate in international business.
Jixy Pixy’s favourite things to do, according to Ms Day, were sitting on her lap and taking baths.
“He is even easier to walk than a dog. We would be at the shopping centre in the open air and I would sit there, relax and have a cup of tea” said Ms Day.
“It was pretty crazy because there was constantly a crowd around the pig and kids loved it.
“People were asking me questions and taking pictures and phoning friends to say there is a pig in Ealing.
But the fun ended quite quickly. Her landlord found out and immediately kicked Ms Day out of her lodgings. Most tenancy agreements most certainly would not allow for pet pigs for sure.
“That’s when I got the idea that maybe this will highlight that pigs are not just food”.
She has been forced into giving the creature up to the RSPCA. But before doing so she treated Jixy Pixy to a farewell meal at Wagamama. They sat in the outdoor seating and they shared a Tofu Pad Thai. “He always bullies me into giving him half the food,” she said.
Memo to other activists inspired by Ms Day: it’s probably not a great idea to post pictures of your pet pig on social media if you do not want your landlord to find out.
Needless to say, animal experts have condemned Ms Day’s actions as showing “a shocking lack of judgement”.
Has the experience been worthwhile?
Alicia appears to have no regrets, despite now being lodged temporarily in a hotel and being bankrolled by her sister in California.
“The sadness I am going through or the sadness the pig is going through at losing me is better than him being slaughtered.
Ms Day hopes to teach people that pigs are not ‘dirty disgusting animals’ and that they can be affectionate and emotional. She hopes her efforts inspire people to eat less meat.
“Even if people eat one less meal with meat then it will make a difference,” she said.
Ms Day will not be buying any more pigs “because it will cause more problems with the RSPCA, which was not my intention.”
RSPCA to the rescue
The RSPCA was critical of Ms Day. A spokesman for the animal charity stated:
“We would advise anyone thinking of keeping a pig to consider whether they have the time, resources, commitment, knowledge and facilities to care for them.
“Pigs require lots of land and specialist facilities and the average life span is between five and 10 years, although some can live up to 25 years.
“We have concerns about the welfare of pigs when they’re kept as pets, due to how difficult it can be to meet their needs.
Pet pigs have specific needs and, like farmed pigs, there are strict laws concerning their diet, identification and movement as well as licences needed to keep them. It can be challenging to look after them properly.’
The spokesman added that the pig “has now been moved under licence to more suitable accommodation prior to finding a permanent countryside home.”
Jixy Pixy is now believed to be at a sanctuary in Kent.
This is not the first time that Ms Day’s judgment around animals has been called into question. In April, Ms Day bought a chameleon from a pet store in New York City. She named it Daddy and showed it off on Instagram. She began to use an exfoliating cleanser designed for humans on it. After reading the comments she stopped using shampoo and exfoliating cleanser on Daddy.
Ms Day said she now wants to explore animal rights activism. She’s certainly got a taste for it as well as a sense of the outrageous and slightly eccentric. She will no doubt prove quite a find for the animal activist movement.