Belgian Pigs Get Their Groove On

by Kevin Burton

   Animal lovers, music lovers, rejoice and unite!

   Scientists in Belgium are investigating a farmer’s claim that different styles of music affect the behavior of his pigs.

   “Piet Paesmans first noticed the phenomenon when his son started singing a tune in the barn during a sluggish insemination session his sows seemed excited and started wagging their tails,” according to a story on Reuters.

   “I thought this is too good to pass up, we should try that with the other pigs too,” Paesmans told Reuters from his farm halfway between Brussels and the Dutch border.

   “He has since created a playlist to coincide with different parts of the day, playing energetic music when he wants the pigs to be active and lullabies at the end of the day.”

   “Jolly dance songs are the biggest hits. They really start wagging their tails and when it’s really dynamic they even start dancing around and frolicking,” Paesmans said. “Rock music is too strong, they don’t like it.”

   Yes, today we return to the weird news beat.

    It was weird news I was seeking last week when I stumbled into the story of two maintenance workers falling into a vat of chocolate (“These Guys Were Really Into Chocolate,” July 27).

   Now it’s partying pigs.

   “The farmer tipped off a team of researchers who have secured 75,000 euros ($76,770) of financing from an EU fund and the Belgian region of Flanders to investigate the claims,” Reuters reports. Study results are expected by December.

   “There is without a doubt an effect of specific noises on animals. So it’s really possible that music can have the same effect,” said project coordinator Sander Palmans.  He said music could help relieve boredom which has been linked to stress. High stress to animals leads to poor meat quality. 

    Ponder those pig lullabies, then think about the worst hotel you ever stayed in and check out this story in Reuters by Denis Balibouse. 

   It’s under the headline, “Swiss ‘zero star hotel’ offers sleepless nights to ponder world’s crises.

   “I couldn’t sleep,” and “my room was too noisy,” may be complaints hoteliers dread from guests, but for the Riklin brothers that is the entire point of their latest ‘zero star hotel’ art installation.

   “The Swiss concept artists’ hotel room is essentially a double bed on a platform, with two bedside tables and lamps. There are no walls, ceiling or doors to provide any privacy or shelter.

   “They have set up their null stern suite – German for zero star – on a roadside next to a petrol station in the village of Saillon, in the southern Swiss canton of Valais,” Balibouse wrote.

   “The intention is to make guests think about the problems in the world, the twin brothers said, and inspire them to act differently.

   “Sleep is not the point,” said Frank Riklin. “What’s important is reflecting about the current world situation. Staying here is a statement about the need for urgent changes in society.”

   “In a nutshell, now is not the time to sleep, we have to react,” said Patrik Riklin.

   Nutshell indeed.

   The suites, which come with butler service offering drinks and breakfast, will be available through Sept. 18. The price for an imperfect night’s sleep: 325 Swiss francs ($337).

   My cats eat Fancy Feast so this story from Ben Blanchett of the Huffington Post hits close to home.  Apparently this is no tall tail – uh – tale.

   “Cat food brand Fancy Feast wasn’t kitten around this week when it announced it would open a temporary, cat food-inspired restaurant for humans in New York City,” Blanchett wrote.

   “Gatto Bianco by Fancy Feast,” a two-day pop-up, will be an “Italian-style trattoria and culinary experience” with recipes inspired by the brand’s food, according to a press release.

   “The menu was made paw-sible by the brand’s chef, Amanda Hassner, and Michelin Star-winning Italian chef Cesare Casella, a chef who has been seen on “Iron Chef America” and “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” Blanchett wrote.

   “The restaurant, located near New York City’s West Village and Meatpacking District, is expected to be open Aug. 11 and 12 with up to eight diners allowed each day. Reservations are available through OpenTable beginning at 12 p.m. Eastern Aug. 4.

   You’ll pardon me if I don’t jump right on that.

   Meanwhile, the Associated Press had this tasty nugget from Spain:

   “Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has asked government officials and people working in the private sector to save energy by giving up wearing neckties at work.”

   “Appearing at a news conference in an open-necked white shirt and blue jacket, Sanchez explained he had dressed less formally not as a nod to the casual Friday custom but to curb utility use — presumably air-conditioning, but he did not spell that out,” the AP wrote.

  “I´d like you to note that I am not wearing a tie. That means that we can all make savings from an energy point of view,” the prime minister said.    That’s sort of odd, but sorry Spain, if that’s as weird as your politicians get, you can’t begin to compete with the USA

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