Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time
“I have a mini pig that is not getting along with my dogs.”
It was a simple Facebook message that sparked a chain of events that would forever change the lives of a Toronto-based real estate agent, his partner and millions of others around the world.
When Steve Jenkins received this note on social media from an old friend about wanting to find a new home for a companion pig, he was filled with glee. He and his partner, Derek Walter, already had two dogs and two cats living at home and Jenkins figured that a pig who would grow no bigger than a canine would fit right in. But as Jenkins and Walter would eventually come to learn, the tiny porcine they named Esther was not a mini-pig as advertised but, rather, a commercially bred sow who would soon weigh more than 600 pounds.
"This story is one of overcoming fear, and learning to love freely. Their quest for doing the right thing is inspiring. I laughed and cried along with them, and fell for Esther and her antics all over again. If you're not inspired to do something good after reading this book, then read it again." -L. Karam (via Amazon) If somebody asked us what we hoped to achieve with our book, this reader review would sum it up perfectly. We're so glad the message is coming through. Kindness is magic, and a smile can change the world. The fact that we even wrote a book still seems very surreal, and will likely take some time to get used to. The fact that you helped us make it a "National Best Seller", well that's gonna take even longer. It's overwhelming. Thank you so much for reading it, and thank you again for sharing your reviews with us. We're so happy you're enjoying it. https://www.amazon.com/Esther-Wonder-Pig-Changing-World/dp/1455560782/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
A photo posted by Esther The Wonder Pig (@estherthewonderpig) on
Bringing a farmed animal into a suburban home is no easy task, requiring a change not only in furniture but also of heart. Esther the Wonder Pig: Changing the World One Heart at a Time, written by Jenkins and Walter with Caprice Crane, recounts the couple’s evolution from being meat-eaters (who happened to have a pig) to becoming animal activists.
“I’d always thought I was a huge animal lover. But suddenly I felt very misled,” Jenkins recalls about making the connection between the pig he loved and the millions of other pigs who are slaughtered. “I was angry about what we’d been told, how we’d been made to believe ‘they’re just farm animals.’”
Throughout Esther the Wonder Pig, readers learn of Esther’s vibrant personality and it’s impossible to miss that the only difference between her and other commercially bred pigs is that she was given a chance. Reading this book will certainly be an eye-opening experience for someone who is not very familiar with animal agriculture and farmed animals.
It’s also eye-opening to learn just how challenging it is to raise a pig who outgrows her litterbox every few weeks. You will surely laugh as Esther figures out new and exciting ways to flip over her water bowl and will feel for her dads as they clean up torrential floods of pig urine. Jenkins points out that one of the reasons why he and Walter first started doing interviews about Esther was because they wanted to caution anyone else from adopting a pig, as pigs are so often returned to shelters—or subjected to worse fates—when they become problematic.
A photo posted by Esther The Wonder Pig (@estherthewonderpig) on
But Jenkins and Walter wouldn’t change their new life for anything. Thanks to what they term the “Esther Effect,” the two have grown into farmed-animal rescuers and committed vegans—there’s even a recipe section, full of ideas for tasty vegan meals, at the end of their memoir.
And if you have read PETA’s interview with Jenkins and Walter or are one of this wonder pig’s nearly 700,000 Facebook followers, you just might have experienced the “Esther Effect” yourself! From her refusal to drink any water that’s not sweetened with juice to her fierce determination to see what’s behind the freezer door, Esther demonstrates a personality that’s loud and proud and from her, many humans have learned just how intelligent, loving and inherently worthy of life pigs really are.
Esther truly is changing the world, one heart at a time.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>