Pigs can play video games, scientists have found, after putting four fun-loving swine to the test.
Four pigs – Hamlet, Omelette, Ebony and Ivory – were trained to use an arcade-style joystick to steer an on-screen cursor into walls.
Researchers said the fact that the pigs understood the connection between the stick and the game “is no small feat”.
And the pigs even continued playing when the food reward dispenser broke – apparently for the social contact.
Usually, the pigs would be given a food pellet for “winning” the game level. But during testing, it broke – and they kept clearing the game levels when encouraged by some of the researchers’ kind words.
“This sort of study is important because, as with any sentient beings, how we interact with pigs and what we do to them impacts and matters to them,” lead author Dr Candace Croney said.
The research team also thought that the fact the pigs could play video games at all – since they are far-sighted animals with no hands or thumbs – was “remarkable”.ADVERTISEMENTnullnull
But it was not easy for them.
Out of the two Yorkshire pigs, Hamlet, was better at the game than Omelette, but both struggled when it got harder – hitting the single target just under half the time.
The Panepinto micro pigs had a bigger gamer skill gap – while Ivory was able to hit one-wall targets 76% of the time, Ebony could only do it 34% of the time.
But the researchers were still satisfied that the attempts were deliberate and focused, rather than random – what they called “above chance”.
That means that “to some extent, all acquired the association between the joystick and cursor movement”.
Kate Daniels, from Willow Farm in Worcestershire, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while the scientists might have been impressed, “I don’t think this will come as a surprise to anyone that works with pigs”.
She added: “They’re not playing Minecraft – but that they can manipulate a situation to get a reward is no surprise at all.”
She paraphrased a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill: “Dogs look up to you, cats look down on you, and pigs look you right in the eye.”
She added: “When you look a pig right in the eye, you can tell there’s intelligence there.”
Still, pigs are no match for humans when playing games – or even less intelligent primates.
The same kind of experiment has been tried with chimpanzees and monkeys, who have the advantage of opposable thumbs, and were able to meet much higher requirements from researchers.
Loving an animal feels entirely different from loving a human being. The former—though without a voice—can speak volumes with their actions.
So when a Maine Coon named Marty passed away, his human companions were devastated. They lost someone who was more than just a pet; they lost a family member.
“As a past observer who lived on the summit for four years I can tell you Marty was a special companion, entertainer and so incredibly loved by observers and state park staff and will be sadly missed,” Mount Washington Summit Operations Manager Rebecca Scholand said in a statement.
Marty was a beloved cat who played a very important role in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Observatory. The structure is situated 6,288 feet above sea level, making the mountain the highest peak in the Northeast.
The meteorologists who work there say they’ve experienced some of the world’s worst weather.
Their job entails collecting weather data every hour of the day. The work they do is important, it becomes especially crucial during the cold winter months. Both interns and meteorologists stay at the summit for a week to make sure the instruments don’t collect ice and remain usable.
The observatory is housed inside a concrete structure built into the mountain. While the meteorologists value their work, the relative isolation they experience can sometimes take a toll on them. That’s where Marty the cat comes in.
The black Maine Coon became Mount Washington’s mascot in 2008. He lived in the observatory for 12 years before succumbing to an “unexpected illness” in November 2020.
Marty was around 14 or 15 years old when he passed away. He served as the staffs’ comfort and connection to the outside world whenever they braved their lengthy and tiring shifts. null
Marty would sit on their laps or rub his body against their legs while they toiled away. Amid their heavy workload, the cat was a constant reminder for them to breathe, smile, and relax.
But just like most cats, Marty was unpredictable. He could be all sweet and cuddly this week and distant the next. Nevertheless, his family in the observatory loved him just the same.
Most cats arrive at a unique location by chance, but not Marty. He was deliberately chosen as the Mount Washington Mascot. The observatory has always had cats since it was established in 1932, and Marty’s tenure was part of that long-held tradition.
The observatory held its first “Mascot Primary” in 2008, and after counting over 8,000 votes, Marty ended up winning as the “Top Cat.” null
He was originally adopted from the North Conway Area Humane Society and moved to the summit in January 2008.
The cat was always featured in the observatory’s social media pages. And in honor of his memory, one of the two 2021 calendars sold by the observatory will feature photos of the feline and be called “Marty on Mount Washington.”
Marty was supposed to retire as the mountain’s mascot in early 2021. In keeping with custom, the observatory will appoint Marty’s successor, although it’s unclear when.
“The summit feline tradition will continue,” the group said in a statement.
But one thing is for sure – that cat will have big paws to fill.
We place animals in order of importance They suffer like us so of course it's nonsense Pets are family but pigs are just product Pigeons are "rats" in our speciesist construct Cats have character but cows can have none Admit they all love life & our mind-games are undone#Vegan💖 pic.twitter.com/rj7whcqOPw
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