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Friday, January 16, 1998 Published at 18:46 GMT


Happy ever after for Butch and Sundance ?
image: [ Sundance, still groggy from the effects of the tranquiliser dart, is now locked up at a vet's surgery ]
Sundance, still groggy from the effects of the tranquiliser dart, is now locked up at a vet's surgery

Britain's most rebellious pig, which should be bacon and pork chops by now, will spend the weekend in a comfortable vet's surgery having outwitted the slaughtermen.

Sundance was finally recaptured on Friday afternoon after more than a week on the run

Two springer spaniels were used to flush it out of a dense thicket and a trained marksman fired several tranquiliser darts into it to bring it down.

Sundance was later taken to a vet's surgery in nearby Malmesbury, where he has been put under lock and key.

[ image: Scores of journalists and photographers join the hunt for Sundance]
Scores of journalists and photographers join the hunt for Sundance
The Daily Mail has apparently bought the 110lb (50kg) beast and his runaway partner, Butch, for an undisclosed fee from their owner, council road sweeper Arnaldo Dijulio.

Escaped from abattoir

The pair of Tamworth Ginger pigs, worth only £40 at market, escaped last week while being unloaded from a lorry at an abattoir in Malmesbury, Wiltshire.

They squeezed through a hole in a fence and swam to freedom across the River Avon.

The search for the pair became a media circus with several tabloid newspapers fighting for exclusive rights to the story.

But the Daily Mail appears to have its snout in front of its rivals.

It was the Mail who recaptured Butch, who turned out to be a sow, on Thursday night in the garden of Harold and Mary Clarke's two acre garden at Tetbury Hill, near Malmesbury.

Set for life in animal sanctuary

The paper appears to have sewn up a deal with Mr Dijulio for both animals to escape the slaughterhouse and live out their lives in an animal sanctuary, just as the infamous Blackie the donkey did in 1987 after being rescued from ritual death in Spain.

Several foreign media organisations have taken up the story and the American broadcasters NBC have sent a film crew down to the West Country.

Among nearly 100 journalists on the trail of the bolshy porker ouwas NBC reporter Donatella Lorch, filming for Friday night's American news.

[ image: NBC's Donatella Lorch:
NBC's Donatella Lorch: "These pigs have become celebrities"
"The British reaction to the whole thing is what has caught our attention and after all, we are the makers of Babe," she said, referring to the hit film about a talking pig.

A large crowd of journalists and cameramen besieged the vet's surgery where Sundance was taken.

Exclusive rights

The Daily Mail, which has bought both pigs in return for exclusive rights to their story, later allowed one photograph to be taken and distributed to its rivals.

Vet Fran Baird said: "He is a little bit shaky but doesn't appear to be any the worse for it. I am quite confident he will make a full recovery."

Mr Baird said Sundance would be staying at the surgery over the weekend and he said they had taken "precautions" to ensure he did not escape again.

He said: "There are padlocks on the doors, which are more than six feet high and chained together.

Rebellious nature

"He's obviously quite bright. He's foxed a number of people for a number of days. I don't want to spend another day chasing around Malmesbury."
[ image: RSPCA Inspector Mike Harley:
RSPCA Inspector Mike Harley:"He had a very thick skin and two darts bounced off him"

It has emerged that Sundance was actually a crossbreed and his rebellious nature may be down to one of his parents being a wild boar.

Several animal sanctuaries have offered good homes for the plucky pair.

PC Phil Salisbury explains the latest in the hunt for the porkers (0-14)
Geoff Francis, from Hillside Animal Sanctuary near King's Lynn, Norfolk, said he would willingly give the heroic boars a home for life. "We would love to have this pair. We already have a refugee from the slaughterhouse, a bullock we called Braveheart, who swam a river to escape - just like the pigs."

"We have been inundated with calls from people asking us to save them, some have offered money to help us. It is amazing how fugitives like these two catch people's imaginations".

Souvenir pig toys

Butch and Sundance's plight was even raised in the House of Commons on Friday.

Home Office Minister George Howarth said there were striking similarities between their predicament and and that of the Conservative Party.

One of Britain's biggest toy firms has revealed it is to celebrate Butch and Sundance's bold escape by bringing out a series of souvenir pigs.

Essex-based PMS International is planning an initial run of 27,000 little porkers and says prototypes will be on show at the International Toy and Hobby Fair in London at the end of this month.

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