The access trail from Turning Mill Road in Lexington to the Burlington Landlocked Forest will always be known to a Bedford couple as Jurassic Park.
That’s because George Hibben of Carleton-Willard Village, out for a walk with his wife Julie, was attacked there last Thursday afternoon by an apparent former pet pig who went feral.
Police officers subsequently euthanized the animal, saying it was attacking them, and Hibben feels badly about that denouement. “The pig was doing what humans taught him to do. I did the wrong thing. I probably should have petted it.”
The Hibbens, who moved to Bedford from Lincoln about three years ago, are in their late 80s. “We walk every day,” and one of their favorite destinations is the Landlocked Forest, 250 acres of conservation land that was cut off from vehicular access by the construction of Route 3 some 60 years ago.
Here is the narrative, which Hibben said he has repeated many times:
As they walked along the access road, “we saw a man about 50 feet ahead of us. He was off his bike and an animal was at his feet. As we got closer, we could see that it was a pig. He was fending it off, holding it back with his bike. Then he hopped on and rode off, leaving the pig with us.”
Hibben said the pig “came right to us and began throwing its body against my legs, going round and round poking at me. My only weapon was a 12-ounce bottle of Gatorade, so I began to poke it with that.” When that didn’t have any effect, he struck the pig with the bottle and the animal retaliated, biting and jumping at the elderly man.
“He knocked me down and I went flying,” Hibben continued. “I felt like I had to get up quickly. But then he turned and just wandered away. I was very surprised the thing didn’t come back and attack me again.”
Mrs. Hibben called Lexington police on their cell phone. The officer “couldn’t believe what I was telling him. I think he had some doubts.” When an ambulance arrived to transport Hibben to Lahey Hospital, the paramedics agreed that “this can’t be true,” he said.
Hibben was in the emergency room for several hours, which means he now is quarantined at home for two weeks. “They took care of me very well at the hospital,” he said, as he was examined and treated for groin and back injuries. “My back still hurts and I’m walking with a cane.”
Initially, Hibben said, “I thought it was a wild pig. In hindsight, today I am absolutely sure it was a pet and had gotten away and was roaming free.” He did some research online and surmised that the animal – about the size of a Labrador retriever – was a so-called pot-bellied pig, which originates in East Asia.
“I think what the animal was doing is what he was taught to do: trying to get my attention,” Hibben said. “Maybe that’s what they taught him to do if he is hungry or thirsty. I misunderstood what the animal was doing and– by striking him I was enraging him. I checked the web and it says they get quite excitable and upset and emotional.”
There are no local bylaws about pigs in homes, he added. “They don’t have to be registered like dogs. I had no idea people keep domesticated pigs.” He suggested that animal control bylaws be updated to reflect the exotic animals that people keep as pets these days. And they should be fitted with microchips, he added, so they can be found.
Hibben said he and his wife aren’t reluctant to return to Jurassic Park. “The only thing I thought you have to worry about there was bicyclists,”