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A picnic with (guinea) pigs

Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue, a nonprofit home and rehabilitation center for guinea pigs based out of Virginia, but operating in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. held their annual Pigstravaganza Pignic this past Saturday, Sept 24 at Reisterstown Regional Park.

A pignic is just what you think it would be — a picnic where people bring their guinea pigs (more appropriately called cavies as their scientific name is cavia porcellus and guinea pigs are neither native to guinea or pigs) to meet new friends, talk to other owners, and many other things.

The Pignic this past Saturday featured numerous raffles, silent auctions, a costume contest, games and food as well as numerous guinea pig products available for purchase all to benefit the MGPR.

While all of this went on, the stars of the pignic were, of course, the pigs themselves. Dozens of guinea pigs were set up in pens around the park with their owners sitting by them happy to tell stories of the antics they have seen their pets engage in over the years as well as offer friendly advice to new and seasoned owners alike.

A highlight of the pignic was the costumes, with a trio of Maryland themed costumed pigs taking home the honor of overall best costume. Linda Koto, a volunteer at MGPR and veteran cavy costume designer also sold various costumes, most striking of which would turn pets into rodent versions of Game of Thrones characters. These costumes were not only beautifully designed but also eerily accurate. Costumes designed by Koto can be seen on the MGPR Facebook page.

Most people are also only familiar with the American shorthair guinea pig — the primary pig that can be found at any pet store — however attendees of the pignic unfamiliar with other breeds are quickly educated on the numerous different breeds that do exist. In addition to American shorthair, numerous Abyssinians made an appearance, as well as a Teddy, a hairless pig named Tootsie, and a humongous guinea pig with very long ears that could jump very high (okay, this may have been a rabbit).

The festivities however are not just fun and games. An important part of the event is to educate the public on proper care of guinea pigs with MGPR volunteers encouraging people to be aware that, despite the general idea that guinea pigs are good starter pets for children, this is not the case and that the decision to purchase a cavy (or preferably adopt or rescue from a local shelter or humane society), people should consider all aspects of ownership just like with a dog or a cat.

MGPR would also like people to know that they always have numerous animals available for adoption to a good home and prepared parents, and will happily accept any help that anyone may be able to give whether this be a cash donation (93 percent of all donations go straight to the guinea pigs with the last 7 being put towards administrative expenses), purchasing items for them off of the pigs’ personal Amazon wishlist, or best of all donating your time to the organization as a volunteer.

More information about MGPR, such as how to contribute, adopt and participate in events (as well as droves of adorable pictures) can be found on their Facebook page as well as their website,