Minnesota State Fair: Managing your human – pig interactions

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Concern over the possible spread of swine flu and the Minnesota State Fair led to this eye-opener from Deputy State Epidemiologist Richard Danila, quoted by MPR.

“There probably have been 50 million, 80 million visitors at county and state fairs this last few months, with many countless human-pig interactions,” Danila said. “Yet, to date, there have only been 230 human cases of this new virus. And most of those have been mild illness, most of them have been children, and most of them have been in people with prolonged swine contact.”

In all the times I have been to the State Fair and visited the animal barns, I did not once consider that I was in the process of creating a “human-pig interaction”. And engaging in “prolonged swine contact” sounds like a bad idea even when there’s not a virus in the mix. But some people need to be reminded to only engage in appropriate relationships, so here’s a dumb little poem to keep your behavior in line.

The State Fair livestock do not mind
you visiting their digs
But when you go you’ll surely find
you must not kiss the pigs.

Their bristles are so dry and tough.
Their snouts are wet with slop.
But if you kiss the pigs enough
You may not want to stop.

So what is an appropriate kind of human-pig relationship apart from the diner-dinner interaction we’re most accustomed to? A group of game developers at the Utrecht School of the Arts and Wageningen University in the Netherlands have come up with a concept called “Pig Chase”. Apparently in the Netherlands there’s a law that pig farmers have to provide the animals with some entertainment while their in their pens, fattening up. But you can only show them the movie “Babe” so many times before they’re mouthing all the lines along with the actors and rolling their eyes when the farmer says “That’ll do, pig” at the end.

They need something more interactive. Take a look.

The idea is still in development, but this would be a popular attraction at the Minnesota State Fair, don’t you think? And safer for both parties than resorting to the usual pig kissing and pork chops.

Have you ever played a game with an animal?