'Wonder pig' behind push for Canada's first large animal CT scanner
'It was an incredible opportunity to do something good,' Esther's owner says
Esther the Wonder Pig is helping raise money for a new CT scanner for the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, which would be the first of its kind in Canada.
It comes months after the 295-kilogram (650-pound) pig — a social media phenomenon and the subject of a children's book — needed a CT scan herself.
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Last October, Esther started experiencing health complications that caused her to have seizures and hyperventilate, but a CT scan for her was not available in Canada.
Going to the United States for one would involve a three-week quarantine period for the pig. (Esther started recovering on her own and didn't head south after all.)
Esther lives with owners Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter in Campbelllville, Ont., who also own the Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary. They were surprised to learn there was no scanner in Canada capable of handling her.
Now, they're helping the vet school buy a Pegaso CT scanner, which will be able to scan large animals, including standing horses, without needing anesthesia.
They want to raise $650,000 for the scanner by July 1. They have raised more than $73,000 so far, according to a Facebook post.
Esther in good health
Jeffrey Wichtel, dean of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, said the new scanner will help fill a gap in animal care in Canada.
"As a health-care centre whose goal is to help animals of all shapes and sizes, we're grateful Steve and Derek want to help change that — for Esther and for all large animals," Wichtel said in a statement.
Jenkins said they wanted to make a difference for other owners of companion animals.
"As soon as we realized there was nothing there for Esther, we started working to get a large-scale scanner in place. It was an incredible opportunity to do something good, to do something much bigger than anything we've done so far," he said.
Jenkins added Esther is feeling better after the health scare and the pig has more energy now that spring has arrived.
Esther will be the first animal scanned by the Pegaso once it is installed.