Campaigner Winnie-the-Pig dies

Michael Pollitt, agricultural editor The pig that lived in Parliament Square for three months, cared for by producers campaigning to highlight Britain's higher welfare standards, has died peacefully at the age of nine.

Michael Pollitt, agricultural editor

The pig that lived in Parliament Square for three months, cared for by producers campaigning to highlight Britain's higher welfare standards, has died peacefully at the age of nine.

Winnie the Pig, who was also a long-running EDP "columnist" in 2000, was the mascot of the industry through a turbulent decade that saw the national pig herd decline by 40pc.

During her vigil in Parliament Square, she lived in a pen at the foot of the statue of Sir Winston Churchill and became a popular tourist attraction.


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Last March, she came out of retirement to spend a day opposite Downing Street.

Although unfailingly civil to her guests, she spent much of her time dozing, as old ladies do. Preferring human company, she demanded only that social encounters be prefaced with food. During her nine years Winnie met politicians, dukes, bishops, celebrities... and many policemen.

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Her social engagements included a visit to the Royal Courts of Justice, when the pig industry took government to judicial review. She made many appearances as a candidate in the London mayoral election of 2000, but her nomination, though initially accepted at Millbank, was later rejected.

She showed her appreciation of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson by gently nibbling her thigh but tested environment minister Michael Meacher's good nature by standing on his foot.

When Lord Tebbit met her, he recalled the song by Benjamin Hapgood Burt that ends: "You can tell a man who boozes, by the company he chooses... and the pig got up and slowly walked away."

Unlike the then Royal Parks police, which disliked having a resident pig on their immaculate grass in Parliament Square, the City of Westminster police were more caring. They allowed her minders to fetch water from a tap in the grounds of the Palace of Westminster.

A commercial hybrid, Winnie was born on a farm near Hungerford but was donated as the industry's mascot when she failed to get pregnant.

Later, during retirement, she was successfully wooed by a Gloucester Old Spot boar named Sambo and produced one piglet, Spots. Recently, Winnie moved to Wallingford, where her grand-daughter Minnie lives on.

The day Winnie left Parliament Square, a few of her minders who were left behind to clear up bits and pieces heard the familiar commentary of an approaching tour bus.

Then there was a second's silence, followed by an impromtu: "Where's the bloody pig gone?"

RIP, Winnie.

Michael Pollitt

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