Don’t under-estimate the power of pig intelligence. This animal can do much more than you’ve ever imagined and do it well.
Unfortunately, most people never consider the intelligence of animals, especially those, I dare say, that are used for consumption or organs for human transplants. But what I am about to tell you may have you reconsidering the importance of the porcine species. The pig will no longer be thought of as a dumb animal without feelings or smarts.
Pig intelligence: Really?
It’s true, pigs are really intelligent creatures. This fact was demonstrated at the Purdue Center for Animal Welfare Science. And how did we figure out how smart pigs are?
Well, honestly, there have been many revelations about the pig’s intelligence over the past several years, but none quite as astonishing as the most recent findings. Apparently, pigs can play video games, and they can win too!
The latest on the smart pig theory comes from scientists who taught 4 pigs to play rudimentary video games, rudimentary as in only using joysticks, of course. But whoever heard of using their mouth to move the joystick of a game controller? Well, I guess this is how the pigs do it.
Hamlet, Omelet, Ebony, and Ivory (the last two are micro pigs) were taught to move a cursor on a screen with the use of a joystick. If they hit their target, they were rewarded with a treat, a real one of course.
Another interesting thing about these four pigs was that they were all nearsighted. This meant the screen had to be placed 45cm away from their eyes.
And it didn’t start with the pigs automatically grabbing the joystick and playing their hearts out, oh no. First, they had to be lured to the joystick by a simple command, the word, ‘joystick’. When they grabbed the controller, they were first rewarded for that milestone. And of course, they couldn’t play with their hands, they used their mouths.
But how did they know what to do?
Good question! Each pig played a game that had blue walls that made a ‘blooping’ sound. When the cursor hit any one of the walls, there was that same sound, then the pigs were rewarded with the treat and even encouragement from the scientists.
Different difficulty levels were introduced, with more blue walls, but the pigs quickly learned the routine. Memory comes into play here, memory and positive reinforcement. The pig intelligence is obvious.
These test subjects succeeded well above average, and even when treats weren’t offered, the scientist’s encouragement seemed to make them do even better. In some tasks, the more difficult ones, only encouragement worked to help them through. It’s as if the pigs were actively seeking approval from the scientists.
“It is no small feat for an animal to grasp the concept that the behavior they are performing is having an effect elsewhere. That pigs can do this to any degree should give us pause as to what else they are capable of learning and how such learning may impact them.”
Although the pigs didn’t do as well on these same tests as primates, you must remember, primates have fingers and are able to complete more complex movements and tasks. This might be a different story if the pigs had the use of touchscreens implemented on iPad devices.
More tests were to be conducted on the pig’s intelligence, but the project was closed. Maybe in the future, we can see more amazing information about pigs and their intelligence and have more respect for the porcine species as a whole.
What do you think about pig intelligence? We’d love to hear your point of view.
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