Rico’s TICO BULL – Thinking of getting a pet? A dog? A cat? A pig? The last one may be a problem as Doña Ivannia Coto, a resident of Carrizal de Alajuela, learned, when on returning from a Mother’s Day celebration last week found a “chanchito” (piglet) lost. She asked the neighbors, the local police and as nobody claimed it, she kept it.

Babe, pig lost and adopted in Carrizal de Alajuela this Mother’s Day. Photo: Courtesy

Thinking since she lived in a rural area keeping the piglet would not be a problem. “I live on a farm and that’s why I consider that I would have no problem keeping it. I felt sorry for it, it was soaked and trembling. At first, it was hiding, but then it allowed me to grab it, of course, he began with terrible screams, it looked like a little boy, but it soon stopped. It’s very sweet, I’m going to adopt it,” said Doña Ivannia.

But that may seem easier than one would think.

After all former President Luis Guillermo Solis kept a piglet as a pet, a ‘chanchita’ gifted to him while in office, that quickly stole the heart of the nation and became the country’s official mascot.

You see, in Costa Rica, you are not allowed to have pigs as a pet.

This was confirmed by Don Bernardo Jaén, director of the National Animal Health Service (Senasa), the most appropriate authority on the subject.

Don Bernardo, without hearing much of Doña Ivannia’s story, despite best intentions, he assures keeping a pig as a pet is prohibited.

“A pig is not listed as a pet in this country. It is a domestic animal, yes, but for production. The pigs transmit diseases to humans, including classical and African swine flu that we have eradicated.

“In Costa Rica, about twenty years ago, thousands of pigs had to be slaughtered to eradicate swine flu. This is not something to play with … would be devastating for our farms,” said Don Bernardo.

Permits are mandatory

So, before you go all Arnold Ziffel*, listen to Susan Ureña, head of the Senasa swine health program, who reminds Doña Ivannia and the whole country, that to have a pig in a house you need a permit issued by them.

According to Senasa, you can not even ride it in the car and take it for a ride as if it were a puppy, and to move it in any way it requires special permission that Senasa also provides.

If Doña Ivannia maintains her idea of keeping “Babe,” as she named the pig, like several people who have miniature pigs, Ureña says they are exposed to the fact that if Senasa locates them and they don’t have permits, they will take the animal away, and take it to an authorized farm.

If you do a quick search on Facebook, you will locate several Costa Rican pages that sell miniature pigs in the country, in fact, there is one that has a post in which they announce the sale of three “Mini Pig” males, as they are known, for ¢175,000 colones each.

In the country, according to Senasa, there are about 435,000 pigs on 14,355 farms.

As to Doña Ivannia, she assures that since she has a small farm and an enclosed place, she will start all the procedures with Senasa to be able to keep “Babe”.

*For those you who are not old enough to remember, Arnold Ziffel was a pig featured in the American situation comedy Green Acres, that aired on CBS from 1965 to 1971. Arnold is a pig that is treated as the son of farmer Fred Ziffel and his wife, Doris, a childless couple. Everyone in Hooterville (besides Oliver Douglas) accepts this without question.