Couple’s 23-year-old pig confirmed as world’s oldest

Potbellied pig | Record pig was born before Calgary bylaw

The world’s oldest potbellied pig is living in a Calgary suburb.

The Guinness Book of World Records recently informed Ernestine’s owners, Dan and Jude King, that their pet is indeed the oldest known pig.

The Kings, who celebrated Ernestine’s 23rd birthday July 17, adopted her in 1991 from a farm near Cochrane, Alta., when she was three months old.

Jude was enthusiastic about the novelty pets, but Dan worried about handling pig manure. However, he was pleasantly surprised to learn this was a clean pet.

“She has been so easy to care for,” he said.

Ernestine became a beloved family pet and is living out her final years in their southwest Calgary home, where there is room in the backyard to explore.

She does not root in the lawn and prefers the graveled areas.

She is house trained and can open the sliding screen doors if she needs to relieve herself.

Ernestine was spayed at an early age and has lived a quiet life. She receives regular veterinarian care for vaccinations and a visit from a farrier to trim hoofs.

“Our vet would pick her up and say, ‘how long do these things live?’ He was a horse and cow doctor and he just didn’t know,” said Dan.

They expected her to live 12 to 14 years, but research revealed they can last much longer. They heard that the actor George Clooney had one that lived to be 18.

“She’ll probably outlive Dan and I,” Jude said.

They feed her rabbit pellets, fruit and vegetables. Pig feed caused her to become obese. She weighs 75 to 80 pounds.

“Dan and I just think the attention, the diet, has kept her good and healthy,” Jude said.

“You see pictures online and people have destroyed them.”

Jude walked Ernestine with a harness when she was younger, but these days most of her time is spent sleeping under blankets near the fireplace.

Her fate was probably better than many.

Exotic pets were a craze more than 20 years ago, but the pigs either died or ended up in rescue centres as they outgrew their homes and their owners could not manage a larger animal that may have become aggressive.

A recent bylaw in Calgary does not allow new potbellied pigs. Pigs acquired before 2006 are allowed, providing they do not pose environmental problems or a nuisance in their neighbourhoods.

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