Fiona: From Loss to Love — Part 1

To say that Fiona has had a complex life would be an understatement. From the day she arrived at Farm Sanctuary, things were chaotic, and within the first 24 hours she had already been faced with her first loss.

A tiny Fiona on her first day outside

Like all piglets Fiona was born to run

Teenager Fiona in the Chamomile

Baby closeup

Walking with the stars- like dancing only slower. Fiona shows Joan Jett her hiding place in the high weeds.



Fiona and Linus on their way to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, both having a difficult time breathing.




Linus right before he passed. Even on oxygen, this tiny boy could not breathe.


Fiona was rescued, along with another piglet we named Linus who was also just a few weeks old, from a factory farm and dropped off sometime overnight at our shelter offices. A note explained that the two were from a sick pen at an industrial pig farm, and that they were extremely ill and needed help.


Thankfully, our little darling Fiona took to a bottle, so was able to stay strong and recover. 

We rushed them to Cornell immediately, but sadly Linus, the tiny red piglet, passed away within a few hours of being put on oxygen. His lungs were almost completely consolidated, and the infection he was suffering from had caused irreparable damage.

Fiona, thankfully, was treatable.


Tiny Baby Fiona all alone in the world. 

And so after weeks of treatment, this young pig was much improved, but on her own. We attempted to find a friend for her, one close to her own age, but sadly only one animal fit that description: Jack goat. And after a few attempts, it became clear that these two could not work out their basic differences or figure out how to just play.

Fiona and Jack.

Biting vs. butting: the biggest issue, and one these two could just not manage to figure out without causing harm to each other.


The butt and the bite!

So back to the drawing board we went. Fiona was still friendless and lonely, but thankfully she found who she needed in one of our elder pigs: Angie.


Angie was all alone as well. 

For years, Angie lived for the company of her friends Jethro and Tina. These three pigs were each other’s constant companions and relished every moment they shared. But Tina’s death in 2006 and Jethro’s two years later left Angie, by that time one of our older pigs, alone.


An elderly Angie.

We tried to introduce her to new friends, but she would have none of it. Pig after pig was rejected with a bite on the rump or a run around the stall. Though previously a serious lover of the outdoors, Angie also lost interest in going out to the pasture. It was sad to watch this once-vibrant pig on the decline. But then it all changed.

Fiona moves to a new spot.

We brought the tiny Fiona to the pig barn — and what a ruckus that caused. If you have ever picked up a piglet, you’ll know the sound they make is insanely loud, and causes the adult pigs (even without meeting the baby) to go nuts. This was the case when Fiona entered the herd. And although the other pigs had her best interests at heart, she was pretty flipped-out over the welcome.


When Angie meets Fiona, this pushy little piglet forces her to love and live again.  

For a few days, she adjusted to her new home in a pen in the pig barn. But then, she was finally able to be put in with Angie — who, at the time, seemed to have little interest in the piglet and continued to seem depressed and withdrawn.


Seeing Angie go outside and enjoy life again was so incredible. This little bundle of joy brought our old girl so much happiness. 

Just a few days after Fiona entered her world, Angie ventured outdoors with her new charge. The two spent hours basking in the sun, rooting up the dirt, and rolling in the mud. They did the same thing the next day, too. And the next. Angie flourished under the influence of her youthful new friend. Even at the age of 11 and living with arthritis, she seemed happier than she had ever been.


Big smiles from a very contented Angie and her tiny sidekick Fiona.

Fiona blossomed as well, becoming a confident young pig. The inseparable pair enjoyed the entire spring and summer together. They even welcomed the addition of a third friend: Tim, a pig whose leg problems prevented him from living with the main herd and whose partner Emily was in the hospital. Fiona’s acceptance of Tim seemed to allow Angie to accept him too, and the three pigs became a family.


On Angie’s last day — unable to go outside, Fiona stayed next to her and comforted her surrogate mother.   

And then Angie slowed down. She did go out daily, however, and lay down while Fiona ran around rooting and taking mud baths. In the end, Angie could no longer get up on her own, her back legs and hips having finally succumbed to degenerative arthritis, and we made the difficult decision to let her go.


Fiona was devastated; at less than six months of age, she had lost another pig she loved.


Stay tuned for Part 2 of Fiona’s story tomorrow and learn about the rest of her life here at the sanctuary!

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