SAN JOSE, June 30, 2015:

Costa Rican heads of state tend to receive gifts of all kinds from citizens, but rarely are they given animals, much less a pig, as happened to President Luis Guillermo Solis last week. He now has a rather peculiar pet.

Hundreds of farmers including pig and fowl breeders from around the country went to the presidential residence last Tuesday to demand protection for local production. Among them was a little girl, Valentina Zuñiga, who gave the president a 12-day-old piglet, which she had christened “Daniela”.

“I don’t know if there’s any other country that has a porker as a pet. If (US President Barack) Obama has dogs and a turkey, I’ll go ahead and have a pig,” Solis told reporters who were asking about the animal’s future.

That being the case, Solis said he would not make the little animal into juicy pork crackling but on the contrary, it will be “first pet of the republic”.

The piglet was then returned to the place it was born in the central province of Cartago, because it must still be nursed by its mother, but will assume its duties as the presidential pet once it is weaned.

Solis, who has declared himself a defender of animal rights, said he feels “honoured” by the little girl’s gift, and said that pigs are “very intelligent and very clean creatures.”

Daniela, a pink piglet with black spots, will be fed and cared for with the voluntary contributions of the staff at the presidential residence, Solis said.

Among the gifts given him since the presidential campaign are religious images, books, decorations, clothes, the jerseys of soccer teams, and now, nothing more nor less than a piggy.

The purpose of this odd gift is for the government to get to know up close and personal what it means to raise pigs, since pig breeders have alleged that the country is allowing pork imports from countries like Chile without ensuring adequate sanitation and health measures.

Few pets have ever been seen at the presidential residence, except for a few cats wandering around some of the green areas, as they would do along any street or neighborhood in the country.

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