“The work of teaching and organising the others fell
naturally upon the pigs, who were generally recognised
as being the cleverest of the animals.”
There's a reason why Orwell fashioned pigs as the most intelligent — and manipulative — characters on the farm. Their brains are remarkably similar to our own. Given that we all take for granted how smart pigs are, it came as a surprise to one grad student how little work researchers have done to determine the extent of their mental abilities.
Amy-Lee Kouwenberg's master's of science research seeks to find out if pigs have episodic-like memory. Her work with the Psychology department's Cognitive and Behaviour Ecology Program (CABE) focuses on determining if pigs can remember the who, what and where of a situation. It's not easy work, given that unlike Snowball or Napoleon, these Yucatan miniature pigs can't speak up and tell her their memories. But by using objects and testing the pig's ability to recall their placement, she hopes to discover just how good their memories really are.