The days of pork may be coming to a close. The International Agency for Research on Cancer recently declared bacon as carcinogenic as plutonium, and now a group of animal activists say pigs are more like people than we know.

The Farm Sanctuary, which promotes veganism and files lawsuits over animal issues, has created The Someone Project to argue that pigs prepare for the future, perform as well or better than dogs on some tests of behavioral and cognitive sophistication, and compare favorably to dogs and chimpanzees, a beloved companion animal species and humans' closest genetic relatives, on many other tasks.

They paid psychologist Dr. Lori Marino and English Professor Christina M. Colvin to write Thinking Pigs: Cognition, Emotion, and Personality - An Exploration of the Cognitive Complexity of Sus Domesticus, The Domestic Pig and they do a literature review to assert that pigs:

  • have excellent long-term memories;
  • have a sense of time, remember specific episodes in their past, and anticipate future events;
  • are whizzes with mazes and other tests requiring location of desired objects;
  • understand symbolic language;
  • love to play and engage in mock fighting with each other, similar to play in dogs and other mammals;
  • live in complex social communities where they keep track of other individuals, both pigs and humans, and learn from one another;
  • cooperate with one another and show signs of Machiavellian intelligence such as perspective-taking and tactical deception;
  • can manipulate a joystick to move an on-screen cursor, a capacity they share with chimpanzees;
  • show the potential for self-recognition and self-agency in their ability to use a mirror to find hidden food;
  • are emotional and exhibit empathy;
  • have distinct personalities.
Dr. Marino is Executive Director of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy and was an expert witness for the lawsuits of the Nonhuman Rights Project, support central to its argument that chimpanzees be recognized as "legal persons." In the controversial documentary Blackfish, Dr. Marino discussed cetacean intelligence and why orcas and other cetaceans cannot thrive in captivity.