At a farm in Queensland, Australia, there was a baby pig without a name. And it seemed destined never to get one.
Just a day or two earlier, the piglet was born on a factory farm. He had lost an eye — no one is sure exactly how. He was having trouble in the crowded and cramped pen reaching his mother’s breast. The lifeless bodies of his siblings were sprawled nearby.
One way or another, this piggy wouldn’t make it to market.
But a handful of animal activists were “bearing witness” that day — a silent vigil honoring these anonymous lives and recording their living conditions.
They spotted the baby pig, bleeding, nearly trampled in the dark pen. They knew they had to get him out of there.
The piglet was just a day or two old — and he had already lost an eye at the factory farm. (Photo: Renee Mechelle Stewart)
One of the activists, Renee Stewart, put the piglet in her car and drove hours to get him to a veterinarian.
But there were many more miles to go.
“I barely slept at all during that 48 hours,” Stewart says.
At first, doctors at The Vet Collective weren’t sure the piglet would make it — desperately underweight, malnourished, bleeding out. But the patient hung on.
And soon, the recovering piglet was welcomed by a nearby sanctuary called Sugarshine Farm.
That’s where this tiny orphan — named Bella because his rescuers thought he was a girl — truly stepped into the light.
On a sunny day, Bella’s rescuers opened his crate. And the pig who had never seen the sun, stepped into its warm embrace.
“At first he’s confused and keeps looking back at me,” Stewart recalls. “Then he takes a few steps. Then looks back at me. It was such an important and emotional part of our journey.”
It’s okay, Bella. You got this. It’s just going to take a little while to understand what it means to be outside. And have a name. And a family.
“He had never experienced grass or sunshine or wind,” Stewart explains. “Only hard concrete, cold steel bars and artificial lighting all day and all night."
But Bella has the rest of his life to work that out. Because this little piggy has indeed come home.