By Josh Saunders
A mum who threw a fifth birthday party for her 18 stone (250lb) pampered pig that survived California’s deadliest wildfires has gone viral.
Marcela Iglesias, from Agoura Hills, California, bought chunky Chuy the pig a birthday cake as well as a custom-made coat and Gucci glasses.
She chose him at a farm sale five-years-ago, believing he was a ‘mini-pig’ despite being the biggest of the litter.
But the beliefs turned out to be porkies, when the podgy potbelly quadrupled in size within six months and never stopping growing until now, when he weighs more than most humans.
It was feared he would perish as he refused to leave the home, during the California wildfire last month, which killed 86 people and destroyed more than 18,000 structures
Unable to leave their piggy pal behind the family-of-four stayed watching the flames draw ever closer to their home, getting within 200 metres.
Surviving the blaze declared the deadliest on record, made celebrating Chuy’s birthday more necessary than ever for Marcela.
After being posted online the bizarre birthday received more than 11,000 views and a range of comments from shock and disbelief to admiration.
Marcela said: “We were especially happy to celebrate his birthday as my house was almost burned down in the wildfires.
“When fire came closer to the back of my house, we put our two smaller pigs in the car, but it was too hard to lift Chuy.
“We tried to push him but he’s so heavy and when he doesn’t want to be picked up we can’t do it, he makes it’s even harder by constantly trying to run away.
“When firemen came and saw the size of him, they told us they couldn’t help, so I didn’t leave my home.
“I couldn’t bare to leave him alone in the house but he was too big to carry and we didn’t have a trailer.
“My son’s school was on fire only a block and half away from my house, we were very lucky.
“So it was an even nicer birthday to celebrate being safe and alive, a lot of people lost animals who were left behind.
“For Chuy’s birthday this year we had a little celebration with an Italian cake which had five candles on we sat around and sang happy birthday to him.
“Then all the pets shared pieces of the cake, of course Chuy had more than the others, he seemed very happy being the centre of attention.
“Even though I spent more money on his custom-made jacket and glasses, of course he was more interested in the cake that cost seven dollars.”
Marcela admits that she spends at least $1,000 (£800) a year pampering the pig from get pedicures to clothing, sunglasses and more.
Since the video was posted last month (Nov 27), there has been a mixture of responses from offensive comments to those enamoured by the pet pig.
Marcela said: “For me my pigs are family, they are like my dogs or bunnies, we are all equal and the same, a lot of people are not used to seeing that behaviour.
“They don’t understand that pigs can be better behaved than dogs, they are very smarty and we only see them in a certain way because of society’s teachings.
“We had a lot of positive comments and really I don’t care about the haters, I love the haters. In my mind, if you don’t like it don’t look.
“People are shocked by how well I treat my animals, but there are pampered pets everywhere.”
Marcela became obsessed with pigs during her first two decades living in Argentina and finally decided to adopt one in 2013.
She anticipated the ‘mini-pig’ to grow to 3st 7 (50lb) at most, but he continued to grow eventually ending up at a colossal 18 stone (250lb).
Marcela treats him like a dog, taking him for walks and teaching him to respond to his name being called as well as commands like ‘sit’ and ‘paw’.
He has helped her to deal with her anxiety as an emotional support pig.
Marcela said: “When I saw the litter I started laughing, I saw them all running around like little podgy balls, I needed to get one.
“I thought I was getting a mini-pig at around 50lb tops, after seeing his mom and dad I thought that he would be small too.
“But by six months he had quadrupled in size, he kept growing, I don’t know if it was because I overfed him at first.
“I was in denial that he would get that big, everyone thought at six months that he would stop growing, but he only stopped at three years old.
“Despite this fact that he kept getting bigger, I never thought of abandoning him or taking him to a shelter.”
Marcela hopes sharing Chuy’s adventures online will help to encourage people to build more of a connection with animals typically on appreciate as meat.
After adopting him five-years-ago, she became vegetarian believing that if you consume animals you can’t claim to love them.
Marcela said “Pigs have a nervous system and so they feel pain, if you love animals and care for them the pig is an animal.
“If I can change on person’s mind about eating meat or consuming less than I have achieved a lot, the way animals are treated in the meat industry is disgusting.”
Marcela collaborated with The Little Angels Project – a non-profit that help animals in need, from providing surgical procedures and medical treatment to finding new homes for animals in need.
She believes there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding pigs’ cleanliness and their intelligence.
Marcela said: “Chuy responds to his name and knows exactly who is coming into the house without opening his eyes, he has a great sense of smell.
“Sometimes when he doesn’t like people I can tell by the noise he makes with his mouth.
“If a stranger enters the house, for example: a friend of our kids, I know exactly that there’s a stranger inside because he makes that sound.”