Therapy Pig Greets and Comforts Travelers at SFO

Pigs still can’t fly, but the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has enlisted a small pig named LiLou in its “Wag Brigade” — a program launched in 2013 to greet and comfort travelers on the ground before they embark on their flights.

The Wag Brigade is generally made up of dogs, making LiLou the program’s first therapy pig. She is meant to greet fliers after they pass through security in order to help ease any travel-induced stress they may have.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, animals that have been certified by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), through their Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program, are allowed to be included in the airport program. LiLou is the first pig to be certified in AAT.

The airport’s website notes that these “pets must be interested in and eager to approach people and accept handling, regardless of the person’s age, gender, race, size, mobility equipment usage, and apparel.” The San Francisco Chronicle notes that LiLou passed the test and is now dispatched to the airport once a month.

Lilou’s owner, Tatyana Danilova, dresses her pet up in tutus and has her nails painted red. LiLous is a a Juliana breed pig, also known as a Miniature Painted Pig.

In an interview with USA Today, Danilova said, “I can see that she is happy showing off her tricks and getting her praise. It also brings positive emotions to me seeing that we can do something good for the community and bring more smiles in some unconventional way.”

LiLou reportedly also has musical talents. USA Today notes that LiLou can play music on her toy piano and even bows after her performances.

Other airports across America have also enlisted the help of cute creatures to help comfort their flying patrons. For example, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has been offering the cuteness of miniature therapy horses to travelers since last May.

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