Why It Matters That Some Pigs Are Actually Pretty Good at Playing Video Games

Pigs may well not be capable to fly, but they can participate in video online games. In a new research, researchers from Purdue College in Indiana have demonstrated that pigs can use a digital monitor and joystick, operated by their snout, to move a cursor around for rewards.


This is a advanced process. The animals require to fully grasp the backlink concerning moving about a joystick and what’s happening on a laptop or computer display screen, and then url what’s going on on the screen to getting a reward.

The 4 pigs analyzed have been all equipped to do that to some extent, demonstrating off their smarts.

As the scientists upped the issue in the undertaking, sending them to new “ranges”, the pigs were not prepared to contend with the young children in Mario Kart just yet. 

They couldn’t even compete with the monkeys for which the activity was initially intended. This may perhaps be since shifting around a joystick with your snout is a ton harder than with opposable thumbs, or simply because the pigs are just not as excellent at the activity as primates.

High rating for Porky

This new analyze fits very well with what we previously know about pigs. They demonstrate outstanding intelligence in a selection of sophisticated cognitive tasks. They can, for occasion, find out to react in different ways to distinctive seems, and are masters at spatial learning duties.

But there are limits to what they can do. Mirror use, for occasion, is not a little something all pigs can learn, and although they can use basic geometric styles to determine what reaction to give, recognising other pigs from photos proves way too complicated.


This was stunning since other farm animals like sheep and cattle are equipped to recognise their sheep and cattle friends on photos.

But why do we treatment that pigs can engage in in the online video arcade, or discover to hunt for sweets in spatial studying tasks? Soon after all, they usually are not possible to find an Xbox on the average farm. This study is section of a expanding place in animal welfare research, the examine of farm animal cognition.

Farm animal intelligence

There are a few key causes why we treatment about how wise farm animals are. Farms are getting ever more sophisticated spots to stay in. Team housing is now the norm in the European Union, that means pigs require to continue to keep monitor of social interactions.

Farms are also significantly employing automated feeders which the pigs have to work themselves, and in some farms – primarily organic and natural types – outside obtain indicates animals have to have to be able to navigate additional space.

This is all good to battle boredom in farm animals, and undoubtedly increases farmed pigs’ welfare. But it can be vital to know just what the capabilities of these animals are, to make confident that they can cope with all of the modifications we throw their way.


Secondly, there is the moral principle of “intrinsic benefit” – what the value of an animal is just for being a dwelling remaining. As an alternative of monetary benefit as an agricultural merchandise or worth to a human as a companion, this is the price it has for being itself, just as a pig, with all of the piggy items it does, this kind of as oinking, rooting for items like truffles, socialising, and all-natural intelligence.

If these sorts of issues are altered by farming tactics these as genetic range programmes and early weaning of piglets from their mothers, that raises moral queries. Is a additional efficient farming procedure truly worth the trade-off?

Ultimately, comprehending animal cognition gives us essential perception into how animals understand the earth. That knowledge can foster a lot more empathy and market greater stewardship of the animals we maintain.

As cognitive tests in farm animals is a somewhat new area of emphasis, there are numerous avenues nevertheless to be explored. For case in point, we know incredibly tiny about chickens’ cognitive capabilities, even nevertheless they are some of the animals most extensively retained by humans on Earth.

Chickens look to be smarter than most of us give them credit history for.

We are also only starting up to realize how distinctive management procedures employed in farm animals are impacting animals’ cognitive progress.

Boosting farmed species without the need of maternal care, inadequate issues, and mixing of social groups could all negatively affect cognition. As the body of research grows, we will be ready to translate this again to advancement of farms to enhance farm animals’ lives.The Conversation

Rebecca E Nordquist, Assistant Professor of Veterinary Medication, Utrecht University.

This short article is republished from The Dialogue beneath a Resourceful Commons license. Read the original report.