ANIMAL rights activists “liberated” six pigs from the wild because they thought they could give them a better life.
The extraordinary case emerged after the animals were spotted aboard a boat after being kidnapped from a remote island in a military-style operation.
Activists shipped them to mainland America to start a new life in a sanctuary which they said would be better for the animals.
The previously happy snorters had lived contented lives on a small island in the California Delta, locals said.
Though the pigs roamed free islanders also fed them and they even became a tourist attraction.
But activists said they were starving and needing saving.
Rights group Farm Sanctuary formed a 10-person hit squad and mounted a two-day operation to snatch the beasts.
They built a special chute to slide the pigs onto a barge and off the island.
The pigs had originally been imported to the island four years ago to help clear vegetation.
A number of islanders formed a Facebook page called “Friends of Pigs on the Delta!” after their arrival.
Residents regularly fed them everything from carrots to animal feed and said they were truly “free”.
Islander Blair Hake wrote: “Question is – what are they being rescued from? They were free, healthy and happy.”
Erlyn Lucas-Payne, a Delta boater who helped to feed them, added:
“Those pigs were stolen.”
And Sabine Verelst, who had also been feeding the pigs, added: “We were out there regularly checking on them.
“I am not a veterinarian, but the pigs appeared to be in generally fine health, with no visible wounds or defects.
“If they needed healthcare, they should have brought a vet out and left them there. They looked okay to me.”
However, Susie Coston, the Farm Sanctuary animal rights group leader said that animals were starved in winter and fed beer in summer.
She said: “During the winters they are starving. During the summer people are riding them, feeding them beer and treating them really horribly.”
“When it became clear the pigs could not live solely by eating the island’s vegetation, the owner of the pigs “just left the stranded animals to fend for themselves.”
“I have not been able to examine the pigs yet, but just by looking at them, I can tell you they are very sick. They are way too thin, which could be because of hunger, poor nutrition, parasites, disease, or any combination, and I suspect one might be pregnant. But we will not fail these pigs.
“These pigs are going to have a beautiful, beautiful life.”