Photos courtesy of Monika Kater
By PAT RAIA
Wilbur, the potbelly pig that became a mascot for the Weeki Wachee River Community, is safe, sound, and comfortable at the Hernando County Animal Services shelter after being removed from his roaming area last week.
According to Weeki Wachee residents, the approximately 60-pound pig has been roaming the woods near the Weeki Wachee River for about two weeks. In that time the very friendly animal, which may have been someone's pet, greeted people going upriver.
“People stop and pet it, scratch its back, feed it, play with it,” said Max Harding. “ The locals call it Wilbur.”
On May 13, Wilbur wandered onto private property whose owner called Hernando County Animal Control to remove the pig and relocate it to the County's animal shelter.
Afterward, the Weeki Wachee River Facebook page exploded with postings about the incident, Wilbur's wellbeing and offers to adopt him.
The following morning, the Animal Services reported that Wilbur was comfortable and doing well at the shelter.
“'He's just fine,' said Lonora Smith, customer service technician for Hernando County Animal Services. “I was just out there with him - he's in one of our (pastures) doing pig stuff.”
According to Smith, since Wilbur's arrival, the shelter has fielded a number of inquiries about the animal's well-being including an offer to adopt him.
For now, though, Wilbur will remain at the shelter under a livestock hold for at least 10-days to give Animal Services a chance to find his owner if he has one, and until a veterinarian can examine him and determine his age. After that, the animal will be made available for adoption.
Anyone who offers to adopt Wilbur will be thoroughly screened to make sure that he will be safe and well cared for in his new home, Smith said.
“We're going to make sure he is not adopted by someone who will (harm him in any way),” she said. “If he is not adopted he will stay in Animal Control's shelter until he is.”
On her recent visit to Weeki Wachee, retired Polk County deputy Monika Kater got to spend some time on the river with Wilbur and took lots of photos of him.
“He was a great little adorable model. I’m so happy he’s getting all this attention, he deserves it. And he loves pineapples,” said Kater.
“Oh, how I hope he gets a great home.”