It’s speedy, it’s pink, it’s ... a racing pig!
It is probably just coincidence that just weeks after I suggested in this space that Hawaii stage a yearly "Running of the Mongooses" in Waikiki that some enterprising animal enthusiasts are staging a sort of "Running of the Pigs" on Magic Island.
My idea is to cash in on the worldwide publicity generated by the yearly "Running of the Bulls" in Spain by allowing hundreds of mongooses to chase tourists down Kalakaua Avenue. Sadly, so far the idea has met with deafening indifference from tourism officials.
But I was encouraged to find out that as part of the Honolulu Family Festival at Magic Island they are entertaining folks with the "Running of the Pigs." The pigs don't actually chase down tourists like the bulls do in Pamplona but apparently race each other on some kind of a pig-racing track, according to Huy Vo, publicist for the event.
If you want to see racing pigs, you only have a few more days. The pigs will run today and through this weekend, when the Family Festival ends.
According to Vo, 12 little piggies were brought to Hawaii from Kansas by trainers Jeff Koblitz and A.J. Agusto. They do three shows a day, four pigs per race, so the pigs only have to run once a day. At the sound of a bell, the 6-month-old pigs race after a "stale Oreo cookie," according to Vo. I assume they wouldn't run after a fresh Oreo or even a day-old macadamia nut cookie. The pigs all have cute celebrity names like Sarah Jessica Porker and Kevin Bacon.
Of course, many animal lovers will complain that it is unethical to race pigs. I'm not sure that's true. Unethical treatment of a pig would entail something like forcing it to eat Spam or tying a bonnet of bacon around it's head. That would just be wrong.
And having pigs race is a lot better for the pigs than some of the other alternatives. Given a choice between becoming a professional racer or becoming a pork chop, I think most pigs would choose to run. And how many mainland pigs get free trips to Hawaii? Most little piggies go to market, have roast beef or stay home. They don't go to Honolulu.
I admit that pig racing isn't the most sophisticated form of entertainment. But it's better than what passed for entertainment in the old days. Roman emperor Commodos collected dwarves, cripples and freaks and made them fight to the death in the Colosseum with meat cleavers. Seriously. Commodos was sort of the Maury Povich of his day.
Performing animals have been entertaining humans forever. There was a time you couldn't walk the boardwalk of Atlantic City without coming across dancing chicken, diving horses and, I believe, juggling hamsters. (I don't know if the hamsters juggled or were juggled.)
So as much as animal activists might not like the idea of pigs racing for the enjoyment of spectators, these visiting Kansas pigs at least know that they get to wee, wee, wee, all the way home instead of to see the inside of an imu pit, the fate of many Hawaii pigs.
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