Goal! Soccer-Playing Swine Score Big in the U.K.
These sporty Tamworth hogs are the main attraction at an English wildlife park
David Beckham has nothing to fear but five soccer-playing Tamworth pigs who are drawing crowds at the Woodside Wildlife and Falconry Park near Lincoln, England.
The park, which hosts an array of exotic birds, reptiles and mammals, draws up to a couple of hundred visitors daily and the soccer games are the must-see event. “We have five pigs in a pitch (field) with a goal at each end – the sheep is the referee and we pick two kids from the crowd to be goalkeepers,” park owner Neil Mumby tells PEOPLE Pets.
Instead of a traditional soccer ball (or football, as it’s referred to in Europe), the 5-month-old pigs – who weigh up to 100 lbs. – play with a special plastic ball fitted with holes and filled with feed. They gather in the middle of the pitch, where the ball is dropped and the scrum is on. As the pigs nudge the ball with their snouts, feed spills out while they hoover up the snacks. “They have learned to keep it moving,” says Mumby. “Games are to three and they only last five to 10 minutes – they score pretty fast.”
And the spry pigs (on game day, they also race over a 100-meter obstacle course in a nearby pig race) have quickly become soccer pros. “They’re getting clever,” says Mumby. “They’re even learning to balance the ball on their heads.”
Watch out, Beckham!