Hamming It Up

Nellie the potbellied pig loves to hog the spotlight in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Nellie the potbellied pig loves to hog the spotlight. Whether she’s “ham-dunking” a basketball or hoofing a football for a field goal, Nellie makes crowds go hog-wild. Performing with three other porkers at state fairs and other festivals, Nellie also jumps through hoops, plays piano, and “writes,” spelling out the word H-A-M with plastic letters.

CALLING ALL KIDS

Kids are her biggest fans. As if she were a rock star, they rush the stage where Nellie performs and try to hug her. But, says trainer Priscilla Valentine, “it’s hard to hug a pig.”

THAT'S SOME PIG

Her most difficult trick? Running up and down a seesaw, for which she gets pizza as a reward. But don’t try to pull anything over on this smart swine. One time Nellie got only cheddar cheese for completing the trick. The next time, she refused to perform until she actually saw the pizza. Nellie loves to eat so much that she learned how to open the refrigerator door. But there’s one food that Nellie won’t pig out on. “We never eat pork in this house,” Valentine says. “She’s very sensitive.”

Hog Genius | Awesome Animals Right now, around one billion pigs patrol the planet, flourishing on every continent except Antarctica. They’re a significant part of our diet, a critical player in modern medicine, and one of the smartest animals in the barn.