Esther the Wonder Pig is at it again: saving lives with the help of her owners, Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter. After Jenkins and Walter adopted Esther in August 2012, the young pig -- who now weighs approximately 400 pounds -- inspired her dads to go vegan and live completely "cruelty free." (Esther is vegan as well.) Now, the two men have decided to make their pro-animal lifestyle even more proactive: they're planning to open an animal sanctuary next spring.
"The idea is to build an environment that is accessible and interesting enough to draw visitors," Jenkins said. "We want mostly pigs but will hopefully be able to house all types of farmed animals... We hope to be able to maintain a barn with some or all of the pigs living in 'house' type setups with clean floors, blankets not hay etc. Something to really drive home their intelligence and force people to consider them a little differently."
Jenkins and Walter conceded that the idea came about because Esther could use more space to roam, but they say that educating potential visitors is really their primary motivation for undertaking such a massive project. "Seeing Esther on a level playing field with our dogs was the trick for us," Jenkins said. "We all of a sudden realized pigs weren't just mindless food animals, and we really want to drive that home to our visitors but in a softer way. Not jamming vegan propaganda down their throats, but rather forcing a connection directly to the animals."
In the long term, the men hope their sanctuary will be a unique place that people will visit not merely to gawk at the animals, but to play with, learn from and connect to them. "It's a huge task and our goals are very aggressive, we know," Jenkins said. "But this has become more of a mission than a dream. We're going to make this happen."