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He's been everywhere, man!
Meet Ziggy the Traveling Pig. As you may have guessed, he gets his name from his love for exploring new places.
This 250-pound cutie has gone from coast to coast in an RV with his owners, taking plenty of photos and gaining even more Facebook followers along the way.
Now, Ziggy is resting his hooves for a bit and starting on a new project. He and his forever family are working on opening an animal sanctuary that will care for creatures rescued from slaughter houses, laboratories and neglectful owners.
To celebrate this new chapter in Ziggy's long history of giving back, we are taking a look at the amazing story that got this adorable snorter where he is today.
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PIG OF HONOR
Many of you might remember Ziggy because of his starring role in his family's engagement photos.
But his journey to swine stardom started long before this, when Ziggy was just an itty bitty piggy.
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Six years ago, living on the island of St. John, Kristin Hartness fulfilled one of her dreams and got a pet pig. She was told the little cutie was a miniature teacup pig that shouldn't get any larger than 20 pounds. As passionate fans of both pigs and travel, this seemed like the perfect package to Hartness. She had just adopted the cutest travel buddy ever!
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In his first few months of frolicking around the island, Ziggy quickly surpassed the 20-lb. mark. Hartness did some research and realized that her new pet was going to keep growing until he was four years old. This was no "mini pig."
"My heart sank, not because I was sad Ziggy wasn't going to be small, because how was I going to find places to rent on St. John with a huge pig,” the owner told PEOPLE about the realization.
Thankfully, a local friend let Hartness and Ziggy live with her in a home right off the beach. For Ziggy, who loves to swim and hang on the sand, this was a utopia. He spent the next four years greeting tourists coming in off the ferries and raising money for various causes, using his sweet personality to help secure donations.
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Eventually the home Hartness and Ziggy shared was sold, and the pair had to find a new place to go. With no options available in St. John, Hartness decided to head back home to the United States.
The only problem was figuring out how to get a 250-lb. pig across the ocean. After exploring every other option and coming up with nothing, the devoted owner spent a good chunk of her savings to rent a private plane for the trip to America.
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PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN
With all four hooves firmly planted in the U.S.A., the next issue was figuring out where to go. Not wanting to settle on one spot, Hartness, Ziggy’s dad and the big pig himself went to Sarasota, Florida, and picked up a motor home.
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ON THE ROAD
Picking up their pad on wheels was the start to an epic journey around the country with stops in over 17 states.
Arriving in America in the winter, the trio started off in the Southern states so Ziggy, who was used to 80 degree temperatures could comfortably adjust to colder weather.
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A PIG OF THE PEOPLE
"Through these channels we've been trying to share our story in hopes our precious boy changes the world for the better. We have followers from all over the world and we hope to reach out to more and more," Hartness explained. "Our goals are to show the world that animals are much more than what comes served on your plate. We're tired of hearing about people giving up their animals because their pet doesn't fit their lifestyle. Make sacrifices for your pets! They are your family forever so treat them like it."
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Now Ziggy has experienced all kinds of terrain and climates, going as far as the majestic mountains of Utah and Colorado.
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Every single spot in America Ziggy has stopped he has loved, but beaches still remain one of his favorite things.
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HAPPY PIG, HAPPY OWNER
"Up to this point, I can honestly say there isn't one thing I would change about our new life. It's first about Ziggy; if he's happy, we're happy. Seeing how happy hiking makes him makes my heart want to jump out of my chest. He still loves water and we make sure he is able to swim in a river or lake every day. We take him to pet friendly restaurants where he is the best behaved being in the room. We are so fortunate our boy loves to travel just as much as his parents," Hartness gushed.
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SHARING THE LOVE
After experiencing so much, Ziggy is now focused on offering the same freedom to other animals in need. With the help of his family and supporters, this big pig is looking to make a big difference by opening an animal sanctuary. To learn more about this exciting next phase in Ziggy’s life and to donate to the cause, click here.