By Becca Husselbee
A couple have had to completely change their lives to accommodate a micro-pig they re-homed when she turned into a 670lbs giant.
Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, from Ontario, Canada, adopted Esther from a friend , in 2012, who could no longer commit to caring for her, but it wasn’t until weeks later they noticed she was growing at an alarming rate.
The couple have now moved into a farm so their ‘pig of leisure’ can have the life she deserves along with their two dogs and other farm animals.
Esther was gaining 1lbs a day and after a visit to the vets her owners were told that she was not a micro-pig at all but a commercial pig.
Steve said: “A old school friend, who knew I was a animal lover, messaged me on Facebook saying she had bought a micro pig from a breeder.”
“She had just given birth to twins and wondered if I would be interested in taking on Esther, who wouldn’t be any bigger than 70lbs.
“I couldn’t say no but I didn’t tell Derek straight away.”
The piglet was just 6 months old when she arrived at their home in George Town but when she was taken to the vets for a check up they noticed her tail had been docked, a common procedure with commercial pigs.
So shocked Steve hid the truth from his partner, Derek.
Steve said: “Derek wasn’t happy when I bought her home.
“I didn’t tell him that she wasn’t a micro-pig but she just keep growing and I had to come clean.”
The alternative for Esther would be the slaughter house and the couple had grown so attached to the little piggy they decided to adapt their home in the city so she could stay.
Steve said: “We weren’t prepared to give her up, she would have gone for meat.
“We looked at what life was like for industrial pigs and we were devastated.
“She became part of the family and we just couldn’t face letting her go.”
The couple trained Esther to use a litter box which eventually had to be replaced with a 6ft paddling pool covered with shavings when she became heavier than a fully grown, female polar bear.
Steve said: “It was a nightmare! We had to tape the cupboard doors shut when she learnt how to open the fridge.
“She is just so clever.”
Despite a law which meant hooved animals could not be kept in the city, the couple kept Esther hidden for three years but eventually decided to give up their day jobs for a life in the country.
Steve said: “We had very selfish lifestyles.
“I worked in real estate and Derek was a magician.
“We were very protective of our two dog; we would have gone to jail for them but never considered giving up meat until we had Esther.
“Now we are devoted vegans and wondered why we never did it sooner.”
The couple have turned the farm into an animal sanctuary, aptly named ‘Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary’ and she is now a social media celebrity.
Derek devotes his time to running the animal sanctuary while Steve manages all of Esther’s social media accounts including her Instagram with over 380,000 followers as well as her own book.
Steve said: “I only started posting on social media so my friends could keep updated but it just went viral.”
Esther, who has been described as a ‘diva’ by her owners, still likes to live indoors after growing accustomed to her luxury lifestyle.
Steve said: “She has a king-sized bed in our room and a queen-sized bed in the living room which we get to have cuddles in.
“She even hates going out in the rain.
“She’s become part of the pack with our dogs and sometimes she thinks she is one, she goes for walk with them everyday.
“She is scared of other pigs now because she is so used to being round humans.”
The couple have described how looking after Esther is a full-time job but she gets treated now and again with a tub of her favourite ice cream.
“She eats 8 cups of kible a day, a food we have to have specially made because normal pig food is designed to make them fat as quick as possible for human consumption.
“She also has about another 8 cups of fresh fruit and vegetables a day including watermelon and kale but her favourite is definitely mangoes.
“They are amazing animals but I wouldn’t advise people to go out and buy one as it can be challenging.
“We have had to totally change over lifestyles to accommodate her.”
The couple are now planning to create a Facebook page named ‘Esther’s Kitchen’ which will feature vegan recipes for pets, including spinach lasagna and chocolate chip granola bites.