Jamie Morton is the NZ Herald's science reporter.

Surfing piglet hams it up

Zorro's global fame will be used to raise awareness of environmental issues.

Pork break, wave hog, and now curly-tailed crusader - a surfing piglet that has put on a roast for headline writers the world over is now set to become an unlikely ambassador for an environmental cause.

Two-month-old Zorro has made a splash in newspapers and TV shows across the globe since remarkable footage of the 2-month-old sharing a longboard with his Mt Maunganui owner Matthew Bell went viral this month.

"While some piggies are content just to head to market, this little piglet just wants to catch some waves," went a pun-filled take in the UK's Daily Mail that suggested Zorro could enter the Pig Olympics - an actual series of games hosted by the Sport-Pig Federation.

But Mr Bell told the Herald he was keen for Zorro to champion something more relevant to Kiwis - a cause highlighting concerns around seabed mining.

The 27-year-old was keen to use continuing media attention to support the group Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and raise awareness of the critically endangered Maui's dolphin.

"Anything to help that cause would be great - whatever attention we generate we'll be sure to send toward KASM."

He felt Zorro, listed as a "Government Official" on his Facebook page, also had the makings of an inspirational speaker.

"When he was born, he was the runt of the litter and would have perished if we didn't take him in ... a month and half later he's being seen around the world, so he's gone from adversity to great heights."

Teaching Zorro how to ride his longboard was something he figured "could be a fun idea" - and the energetic porker has taken to it like a natural.

"We've had a couple of pigs and I always thought it would be fun to surf with one," he said.

"When we first went out people just looked at us like 'are you crazy'? A lot of them asked whether pigs can swim and I guess it's something you don't think about, but they're built for it - they just put their snout up in the air and go for it."

Zorro soon became a hit on Mt Maunganui's Main Beach and it was only a matter of time before footage from a board-mounted GoPro camera made a trail through newsrooms around the world.

"It really took off - people have been posting on my Facebook page from everywhere from Argentina to the Netherlands ... it was on Fox News, Good Morning America ... [surfer] Kelly Slater even 'liked' one of the photos."

Would Zorro ever get tired of his new-found fame? "No way," Mr Bell said. "The more belly-scratches he gets, the better and he loves it that he's very popular down at the beach. As someone painfully punned, he's hogging the limelight."

- NZ Herald

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