103. If Only Pigs Could... Solve Mathematical Problems!
If pigs could fly, they wouldn't be much use. If pigs could do maths, spell words and tell the time... well, that's a whole new conundrum. And yet such was the case of the strangely intelligent pig, a snorting creature who captured the imagination of the London public in 1785.
Here was a beast, immortalised by artist Thomas Rowlandson, in his picture, 'Wonderful Pig', who astonished audiences by being able to solve mathematical riddles put before it. And not only that, but the brute could also spell out words and even read! "Surely not!" I hear you huff, but the facts are often stranger than any fiction.
We must not of course be put off by the even more extraordinary fact that the owner of the pig was admitted to a lunatic asylum in Scotland shortly after the death of the animal in 1788.
The legend is true however, and the 'learned pig' was certainly a pioneer as several other intelligent pigs emerged. One was alleged to be able to 'grunt' in French. And the strangest of all was a pig called Toby who apparently wrote his own autobiography!
"Pig swill!" I hear you cry. And what of the 'pig-faced lady' of London who lived at the beginning of the nineteenth century? This rather unattractive (to say the least!) woman made the headlines across the capital and would have been ideal fodder for any 'freak show' exhibition.
Strange tales, but I'm certainly not telling you porkies!
Photo by qwrrty on flickr