When Mango the Pig is old and grey, he’ll have a hell of a story to share with the other animals at his farm sanctuary near Ottawa.
Not long ago, Mango was just a typical young hog on a fast-track to the slaughterhouse.
But today, thanks to an odd twist of fate and the help of a few compassionate people, he’s a celebrity swine, living high on the hog at the Penny Lane Farm Sanctuary, a place where BLTs and ham sandwiches are never mentioned.
Over the past month or so, he’s made three television appearances, he’s been the guest on two live radio shows and he’s inspired hundreds of people with his unlikely story.
According to his fundraising co-ordinator Lara Cohen, his GoFundMe campaign has already raised nearly $10,000.
“He’s just adorable,” said Cohen.
“He is so cute and he’s such a character. It was such a special experience to get to know him….”
To say that Mango defied the odds would be an understatement.
In early September, Ottawa resident Julia Lynne noticed something lying in traffic on the side of the Highway 417 east of the city.
As she approached, she took a second look and saw what appeared to be a young pig.
Lynne turned her vehicle around and went back to take a closer look.
She found a young pig, just a few weeks old — injured, shivering and unable to move.
At the time, it was unclear how Mango ended up on the freeway.
But an eyewitness who came forward later said the pig fell from a stock truck and landed in traffic, probably en route to a local finishing barn.
Of course, Lynne did what any compassionate person would do. She placed the pig carefully into her vehicle and took him home.
Lynne then contacted a friend, who in turn contacted Cohen, a small animal veterinarian, who works at the Aylmer Veterinary Clinic in nearby Gatineau, Que.
At first glance, Cohen and another vet who took custody of Mango thought euthanization would be the most humane treatment.
“We took him to the (veterinary) emergency hospital, initially to be euthanized… but as it turned out, he rallied in the car,” Cohen said.
“He looked at us as if to say, — ‘Oh yes, I’m OK. If you just take care of me, I’ll be fine.’ So we decided to give him another chance”
Mango got lots of attention during his first night under Cohen’s care, as well pain medications, plenty of fresh fruit and some jealous looks from Cohen’s dog.
He eventually fell asleep with a chunk of mango peel hanging from his mouth.
Mango’s treatment the next day went off without a hitch.
He was sedated, X-rayed snout to tail, and treated for a fractured leg, as well as multiple superficial abrasions.
An orthopedic surgeon inserted a plate and two pins into his fractured leg.
Shortly after the surgery, he was back in Cohen’s care, doing what any normal pig would do.
“He likes to beg for food. He likes to play with whatever is on the ground — whether that’s material for recycling, a dog toy, or stuffed animals that belong to my children,” Cohen said.
“He whips them around the room, just like a dog. He also likes to stand beside… the dishwasher and help me clean the dishes before they go into the machine. He’s certainly showed us a side of pigs that we didn’t know about.”
He also destroyed the neighbour’s back yard.
“Her entire yard needs to be redone,” said Cohen.
“But he had a great time digging and he enjoyed every moment of his snout-to-earth experience.”
After a month and a half of intensive care and coddling, Cohen and her neighbour — also a veterinarian — determined that Mango had outgrown his human habitat and needed some space to dig and roam.
After launching a campaign to find Mango a permanent home, The Penny Lane Farm Sanctuary at nearby Saint-Pascal-Baylon, Ont., stepped forward, writing the final chapter in Mango’s tale.
When he saw his new digs, Mango’s joy was unmistakeable, Cohen said.
“He was one happy pig,” she said, choking back tears.
“It’s a beautiful story, almost like a fairy tale.”
“There’s one animal in this world who’s incredibly happy right now and there’s a lot of people… who are very happy for him.”
“I love Mango. He’s a great guy — a totally cool dude. I feel so fortunate that I got the chance to know him.”
Mango’s caretakers have arranged a No-Meat and Greet fundraising event on Oct. 26 at Penny Lane Farm Sanctuary.