The star initially stays covered – the pig with the impressive name Graf Bobby von Sonnenschein stands unmoved in the far corner of the outdoor enclosure.
His siblings, cousins and cousins are crowding in front – TV teams and photographers are currently coming to a farm in East Frisia only because of the angler saddle pig with a tendency to be overweight. Because at 14 months, Bobby has a turbulent history that is shared on the Instagram internet platform.
“From the beginning, Bobby was the one who was the tallest, and he has always been everybody's darling – he is a very comfortable one,” says farmer Nadja Poppen at the organic farm at Sonnenschein in Aurich. "Then we wanted to start slaughtering, and because he was the biggest, he should believe in it first." However, attempt one fails: "He always went through us or ran after us," says the 40-year-old. In the next week and the week after, Bobby also successfully defends itself and the farmers give up: "Okay, you won, you stay here for the time being and we will think of something else for you."
In any case, Bobby is not suitable for breeding animals. "Angler saddle pigs actually have such a light saddle on their backs." But Bobby costs to run the Poppens: Accommodation and food have to be paid for – gourmets, for example, like to eat raspberries. And veterinary costs could also come to the family within the 10 to 15 years that Bobby is likely to grow old. Poppen wants to find sponsors via Instagram. In addition to many photos, the account contains stories written from Bobby's perspective. In the first post it says: I am a handsome pig, some would say I am very strong. My hobbies are: wallowing in the mud, racing, chilling and enjoying delicious organic food. »
Bobby now weighs 180 to 200 kilograms – much more than his peers. And too much for the slaughterer of the Poppens, because Bobby no longer fits in the defoliation machine. But the farmer's plan works. The feed costs are covered for one year thanks to enough sponsors who transfer ten euros per month. However, the number of followers is manageable at a good 2300. The best-known animal influencer – petfluencer after the English word for pet – has more than ten million followers: Miniature Jiffpom.
The founder of the petfluencer marketing agency Tony, André Karkalis, speaks of petfluencers from around 10,000 followers. There are several hundred to a few thousand of them in Germany. "One or two handfuls of people can do this full-time." For example Talitha Girnus, owner of the now dead white-bellied hedgehog Mr. Pokee, or Annica Hansen with her horse Wölbchen. «The entertainment factor is very important. And of course that's the case with animals that deviate a bit from the norm, »says Karkalis. It is important to him that the animals are allowed to be animals and are not constantly put in costumes and humanized.
Lea Schmitz, spokeswoman for the German Animal Welfare Association, agrees. "This can mean stress for the animals." Some channels are extremely influential – and could also advertise animal or species protection messages. At Bobby's account, the animal rights activist is divided: If slaughtering is already underway, «the animals should at least be kept under the best possible conditions. What you see here is not bad – that means organic farm, straw, the animals have space. »
Farmer Poppen also gets criticism. "Some say it is very macabre that we let a pig report and other pigs have to die for it." If the critics were not offensive, they would deal with them. «I know that many people see it differently. But we like to eat meat, we produce it. That is our livelihood. » She also wants to use Bobby's account to inform consumers about organic farming.
He finally ventured to the other pigs and his human visitors. Quite leisurely when it came to dusting food.