Kristin Hartness adopted Ziggy the Traveling Piggy as a cute travel partner eight years ago.
At the time, she believed that he’d grow no larger than 20 pounds. He was sold as a “mini pig,” but that turned out to be a scam, to say the least.
Within the first few months, Ziggy had already surpassed the 20-pound mark. He would continue getting larger and larger for the next four years of his life.
To make things worse (or better?), Kristin and her rapidly growing pig lived on the island of St. John.
“My heart sank, not because I was sad Ziggy wasn’t going to be small, because how was I going to find places to rent on St. John with a huge pig,” Kristin told People in 2016.
A lot of people would probably get rid of the farm-sized pig, tell the hilarious story of falling victim to a mini-pig scam on Twitter, and call it a day. But not Kristin.
She figured out a place to live with Ziggy — a kind, local friend’s house on the beach. Ziggy grew up splashing in the sand and waves and greeting tourists.
Eventually, though, Kristin had to head back home to the US. She wasn’t about to give up on Ziggy then, either, so she had to figure out how to transport the then-250-pound pig across the water.
That was Ziggy’s first travel experience, and he traveled in style. Kristin used a huge chunk of her savings to rent a private plane just to get Ziggy home.
There, Kristin and her fiancé, Jay Yontz, decided that they wanted to continue their traveler lifestyle. They bought a motor home in Sarasota, Florida.
And fortunately, that RV was plenty big enough to fit Ziggy.
The 300-pound pig has now spent time in a whopping 17 states. Have you been to 17 states?!
The trio started out in the South so Ziggy could slowly transition to the colder temperatures in the US. It was winter at the time.
Then they gradually made their way north and west, all the way to California.
Ziggy has gone hiking everywhere from Moab, Utah, to the Appalachian Trail to Malibu, California. He’s been to the Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, and, of course, countless more beaches.
Along the way, Ziggy has met countless folks who became fans of the adorable traveling pig.
Kristin and her partner finally decided to make Facebook and Instagram pages for Ziggy.
“Through these channels we’ve been trying to share our story in hopes our precious boy changes the world for the better,” Kristin explained.
“We have followers from all over the world and we hope to reach out to more and more.”
“Our goals are to show the world that animals are much more than what comes served on your plate,” she continued. “We’re tired of hearing about people giving up their animals because their pet doesn’t fit their lifestyle. Make sacrifices for your pets! They are your family forever so treat them like it.”
Ziggy may be a lot bigger than most pets, but that doesn’t mean he’s too big for cuddles, treats, or adventures. Just by traveling and meeting so many people, Ziggy has helped raise awareness about animal rights and rescue groups. He’s helped raise money for various causes, too.
But Kristin and Jay decided to take their advocacy work to the next level.
In 2017, they started a farm and animal sanctuary in Providence, North Carolina. They lovingly named it after their biggest inspiration: Ziggy’s Refuge.
The sanctuary houses other rescued farm animals, like sheep, geese, and horses. Instead of traveling the continent, Ziggy now spends his days exploring the farm with his mom and dad and hanging out with his new animal friends.
It’s a great retirement for such an extensively traveled pig. Of course, Kristin and Jay continue to spoil him with plenty of treats, snuggles, adventures, and a pig’s favorite pastime — mud baths.