Close view of a young pink piglet sitting in the middle of dirt track looking almost directly at the camera with a peaceful look and almost a smile

Behind the Scenes with Tottie.

She is the shining star of our new and uplifting campaign, 'Be their Hero'. Take a look to see how this little piglet used her natural talents to inspire the hero in all of us.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated April 11, 2023

Good golly, Miss Tottie!

At just 5 weeks old, Tottie burst into our lives with enthusiasm, curiosity and love. Through the sessions with trainer and adopted ‘mum’ Shae, Tottie’s unique personality and natural talents shone through, as she showcased just how special pigs are.

Get to know Tottie by watching her gorgeous behind-the-scenes video then read on to hear from her trainer Shae Holden – Head of Animal Behaviour, Enrichment and Management for Animals Australia – about what it takes to get an active and curious little piglet ready for a national TV campaign!

Watch Tottie come to life as she uses her natural talents to show us what unique and lovable characters pigs are!

Full of love.

Tottie and trainer Shae bonded quickly.

“My mornings started by having a cup of coffee with Tottie sitting on my lap. I became her ‘mum’. Pigs feel emotions like we do – so what we can experience, they can too. She experienced all sorts of things that a child would with their mum, and she felt that kind of bond with me.”

This image contains content which some may find confronting

An image of Tottie being held and hugged by trainer and friend Shae surrounded by trees.
Pigs respond to love and kindness in much the same way we do – releasing oxytocin (the ‘love drug’) during positive interactions.
Image credit: Brendan Cherry

She’s a natural!

Pigs are incredibly intelligent and have an insatiable appetite for learning new things. Tottie was no exception!

Explains Shae: “She was learning new behaviours at 5-6 weeks of age within one session – sometimes within 5 minutes! Which is something a puppy of a similar age would take weeks to learn.”

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A lady stands opposite a young piglet who is sitting down and facing her, on a dirt track surrounded by trees.
In a very short amount of time, Tottie was sitting when asked, jumping on her mark, or looking up on cue with ease.
Image credit: Brendan Cherry

An absolute delight.

Tottie’s unique personality delighted Shae as well as the cast and crew.

“Tottie is funny, cheeky and so enthusiastic! She really enjoyed herself on set – and she loved her training sessions – she wouldn’t want them to end! I would try and pace her, giving her breaks, but she would just run back to her marker!”

This image contains content which some may find confronting

An image of trainer Shae leaning over a clothes line with some clothes on it while training Tottie who is sitting in a white washing basket.
Like all pigs, Tottie has an inherent thirst for adventure and learning new things. She loved her time on set and didn't want her days to end.

A friend to all.

While Tottie is very much a ‘people-pig’, her ability and desire to befriend extends far beyond humans. Both on-set and at her new home, Edgar’s Mission, she is making many friendships with pigs, dogs, cows and chickens!

“Other piglets who I’ve worked with have completely different and individual personalities. Tottie has always just loved being around people – and learning new things – and she has her own unique way of showing that to people and other animals.”

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Tottie was more than happy to make room for her co-star of the 'Be their Hero' campaign - Violet the rescue border collie.

Expressive and funny.

Tottie is a real talker and like other pigs, will tell you what she’s thinking and feeling using her voice and body language.

When Shae arrived for training one morning, what Tottie did stopped Shae in her tracks.

“She spotted me from afar coming in the through the gate and she started vocalising or ‘talking’.  But the noise she was making was extraordinary! It’s one pigs usually reserve for close family members only. It sounds a bit like a laugh – I was so taken aback, my eyes welled with tears, I just couldn’t believe it.”

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Those little grunts you hear when Tottie is interacting with 'Davo' in the TV commercial are all real - she's a chatterbox!

A real ambassador.

Since filming wrapped, Tottie has grown into a beautiful, confident and happy pig. And as she enjoys life at her forever home, Edgar’s Mission, millions of people are seeing pigs in a whole new light thanks to her starring role in Be their Hero.

“Given the opportunity, any piglet would be able to do this – to learn and to show you who they are – to be themselves. They’re all uniquely individual. They all have their individual personalities, just like we do,” Shae reminds us.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

Tottie will now live out her days in happiness and freedom at Edgar's Mission where she can interact with the other animals and always be among people.
Behind every piece of ham, bacon or 'pork', is a Tottie.

Tottie shows us that whilst pigs like her have been categorised as ‘food’, they are just as unique and sensitive as those deemed to be our ‘friends’. And they are equally deserving of our kindness and compassion.

By choosing to see pigs for who they are, and leaving them off your plate, you can spare them from a life of suffering in a factory farm and a terrifying death in a slaughterhouse.

Your conscious, kind choices will help create a world where pigs like Tottie are respected and loved for the marvelous, wonderful and amazing animals they truly are.

Eat kindly, for pigs!

By exploring the delicious world of plant-based food you can help shape a world that is kinder to pigs and other farmed animals.

And every kinder meal makes a difference! Head to or order your FREE Veg Starter Kit, full of recipes, nutritional advice, tips on eating out and more.