We recently said goodbye to Rhino: a remarkable and spirited piglet whose love for life, despite severe health challenges, inspired and brought us so much joy. Rhino came to Farm Sanctuary with neurological issues — he had a head tilt and trouble balancing. We knew his condition might shorten his life. However, we vowed to make every moment count.
Remembering Rhino Pig: Why Sanctuary Matters
Remembering Rhino Pig: Why Sanctuary Matters
THE SOMEONE PROJECT: PIGS
Learn more about pigs as individuals: Read “Thinking Pigs: Cognition, Emotion, and Personality. An Exploration of the Cognitive Complexity of Sus Domesticus, the Domestic Pig.”
This is the heartbreaking side of rescue work.
Rhino spent two months at Farm Sanctuary; we wish we had more time together. But in that short time, we shared countless laughs and hugs. This love fills our hearts even as we grieve his loss.
Farm Sanctuary rescues animals from dire situations. Many, like Rhino, battle lifelong health challenges. Here, they never fight alone: Everyone receives love, grace, and individualized care. And whether they’re with us for days or years, they’re given time to live free from harm — as individuals, not commodities.
This is the story of one such pig who changed how people view and treat farm animals.
A pig's life
Rhino was a Yorkshire pig, the most common breed raised for meat in the U.S. Most are slaughtered around seven months old. Meanwhile, domestic pigs can live an average of 10 years — and some rescued pigs at Farm Sanctuary have lived into their early teens.
Rhino came to us without a tail — just a tiny nub where his full one should have been. Pig producers dock tails when piglets are a few days old and rarely offer pain relief. The aim is to prevent piglets from biting others’ tails, a stress response to unnatural confinement.
Pigs are natural explorers: At Farm Sanctuary, the pigs spend hours rooting through pastures — overturning soil with their powerful snouts and munching through plants and other foods they unearth. Then, they soak in cool mud puddles or nest themselves within warm straw beds.
But on factory farms, where most pigs grow up, they spend their lives on hard concrete floors and never get to see the outdoors. While we don’t know Rhino’s exact place of birth, his mutilated tail suggests he was born into a high-stress environment where he lacked the space to perform these natural behaviors.
At some point, Rhino was taken from his mother and brought to a stockyard for sale. A buyer purchased Rhino and then sold him to a small farmer who raises calves and pigs for meat.
A change of plans
Shortly after arriving at that farm, Rhino began showing signs of illness. The farmer consulted a veterinarian, who suggested medication for a potential strep or ear infection. If Rhino recovered, the farmer would continue raising Rhino for slaughter. While caring for the little pig, however, this person had a change of heart.
Rhino was affectionate and charming, following his guardian around like a dog. Making this comparison, the farmer saw a life — not a product. This recognition is an important step: In Farm Sanctuary’s work to transform our nation’s food system, we celebrate every act of compassion. Ending exploitation starts with one person and one animal at a time. Someone, touched by Rhino’s story, may see another pig as someone, not something, and choose to spare them too.
Rhino’s life at Sanctuary
Rhino, in many ways, could be compared to a beloved family dog. He’d sprint to the fence, body wriggling with joy, to greet passersby as they stopped to say hello. He delighted in playing with sticks and stretched out for belly rubs — closing his eyes to relish each gentle touch.
We say this not to simplify who pigs are but to help people see how their lives can be. Rhino was wiggly, silly, independent, and determined. He loved making new friends and exploring his pasture. He had a life few pigs ever know because they’re stripped of their rights to lives of their choosing. Though Rhino only lived a few months, he lived with joy and intention. We remember his life because he mattered.
In loving memory
Rhino passed away on June 29 from a neurological illness. Our hearts ache for this significant loss, but we’re glad that he knew the peace and freedom of Sanctuary. This brave little pig lived fully and deeply. May his life inspire compassionate change for other animals like him.