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.”
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.”
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!”
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.”
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.”
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 inBe 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.
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.