Most people just think of pigs are bacon sources, but new research shows we really need to rethink our relationships with these portly animals. Pigs are some of the smartest creatures on Earth, with intelligence on par with chimpanzees, dogs, and even three-year-old children.
For decades, research into pig psychology was ignored, probably because it has big implications for how we think about the food we eat, and because nobody wanted to put "pig researcher" on their resume. In recent years, scientists have realized they were missing out on something cool and started hanging out with pigs. The results were surprising. Pigs form relationships just like we do, with a society focused around the relationships between parents and offspring. Pigs recognize other pigs as individuals, can understand symbolic language, have amazing long-term memories, and form close bonds with familiar humans.
Probably the most human-like trait they have developed is that, like countless teenagers, pigs love wasting their time playing video games. Researchers have developed games for pigs that let them move color lights to targets on touch screens. They will even play the game against a human player and do better than dogs do at comparable games. It's only a matter of time before they learn Call of Duty, so maybe it's time to rethink pigs. In the future, we might think about eating pigs with the same revulsion we think of eating monkeys and dogs … or our three-year-olds.