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Juana, the Pig Who Escaped Yuletide Dinner, Hurricane Rita, and a Trailer Ride across Texas

Juana is a two-year-old domestic pig who arrived at Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in early August 2006. Traveling all the way from Bloomington, Texas, in the triple-digit heat, she arrived with her rescuers, Don and Cynthia Stevenson, a little before sunset. The Stevensons rented a special trailer for her transport and stopped frequently to give her water and ice to help keep her cool. After many hours of confinement, the ranch staff and the Stevensons expected Juana to leap from the trailer into her new, comfortable pen. But she had other ideas.

Apparently, Juana had been rather comfortable in the trailer and wasn’t interested in her new surroundings. She vocalized frequently in response to our invitations to step out and only mildly sniffed at the food offered to her. After each coaxing attempt she would turn away and lay down again. The next twenty minutes were spent prodding and encouraging her to enter her new home. As she rose several times and lay down again, the Stevensons told us of her remarkable story.

Carlos Gonzalez, a friend of the Stevensons, bought Juana as a piglet nearly two years ago, fully intending to butcher her for Christmas dinner. Over the following months, Gonzalez cared for Juana, talking to her, patting her and scratching her belly. When it grew cold, Gonzalez put hay in her stall and would actually lie down with her in the hay. She loved that! One day, Gonzalez began talking to her about her fate. To his surprise, he saw tears in her eyes and running down her checks. He felt so bad and was so moved by her expression that he exclaimed to Delia, his wife, “I’m not going to kill her!”

Soon after the incident, Gonzalez became ill, was bedridden and could not eat. Juana then refused to eat, though Delia tried repeatedly to feed her. Delia told her husband about Juana’s refusal of food, and he struggled out to her pen. After talking with her, scratching her and telling her she had to eat, she began to eat again. That first holiday season came and went. Juana stayed comfortable in her pen again stacked with hay.

Last September, the Gonzalez family were evacuated from their southern Texas home because of Hurricane Rita. They built Juana a crate and took her with them to San Antonio, where they fled. Fearful that another hurricane evacuation was possible this year, Gonzalez recently contacted the Stevensons for help in placing Juana at a sanctuary. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to take the pig, now weighing in excess of five hundred pounds, with them if they needed to evacuate. The Stevensons contacted the ranch to request Juana’s permanent placement.

Turning back to the task of dislodging Juana from the trailer, she was finally coaxed out enticed by water. After she walked out, she dumped the water into the dirt, and then proceeded to lie in the fresh mud. Hot and tired, Juana knew exactly how to remedy her situation.

The Stevensons drove hundreds of miles to pick up Juana to bring her to the ranch and then turned around for home again, making their journey almost 24 hours long. Their kindness and generosity helped Gonzalez secure safety for his friend and resulted in a future for Juana where every day is a holiday, forever free from the threat of being someone’s dinner. And Juana now enjoys a mud bath whenever she wants!

posted September 1, 2006