Pigs often get an unfair, bad rap and are portrayed as dirty, dense, lazy animals. However, these descriptions can’t be further from the truth.
Pigs are actually very smart and clean, and they love to play.
Sadly, humans exploit these intelligent animals by not only breeding them at an industrial scale for food1 but also by using them in cruel and unnecessary experiments.
Pigs in NZ have been used to:
1. Research ways to sustain, enhance and make more money for the animal agriculture industry.
Examples include research into:
- Maximising their weight gain.
- Decreasing feeding costs.
- Investigating how painful tail-docking is.
- Reviewing how they cope with different animal husbandry methods.
- Finding the most "humane" or "efficient" ways of killing (including gassing) pigs.
2. Investigate methods of controlling unwanted wild pigs.
- Studying the spread of diseases by wild pigs.
- Investigating ways of killing wild pigs.
3. Conduct forensic studies (i.e., studying blood-spatter patterns from gunshot wounds in live pigs).
4. Try and model humans in medical research relating to digestion, hearts problems, eye infections, nicotine injections and wound healing.
5. Teach students surgery skills and techniques.
6. Investigate xenotransplantation (transplanting organs, tissues, or cells from one species to another). I.e., pigs had had cells from their pancreas "harvested" and transplanted into human patients with diabetes.
Learn more about xenotransplantation here.
7. Conduct basic biological research into how intestines move, stomach muscles react to damage, oxygen influences gut microbes and how hearts function.
Auckland Island Pigs
NZ's renowned Auckland Island Pigs have been exploited for science in many ways. These pigs were discovered on a remote island and became desirable research subjects as they hadn’t been exposed to the pathogens and diseases that other pigs in non-isolated areas had.
Learn more about how they have been used here.
Places that use pigs for science in NZ include private companies, universities, and crown research institutes.
Pigs used for science in NZ are sourced from breeding units, commercial sources and farms, which can include teaching farms/facilities run by universities or other institutes.