Sadly, at 11 years of age, Esther the Wonder Pig, who inspired many people to become vegan, died aged 11 in her Canadian home.
Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, Esther’s friends and guardians, wrote on Instagram on 19th October 2023, “There’s no easy way to say this, but the day we all wished would never come has arrived. Esther has passed away. She was calm and peaceful, and fell asleep with her dad Steve by her side. While we understand many of you will have questions, and we will have the answers for you, but we are going to take a little break to process the situation. Even though Esther is no longer physically with us, her memory and legacy will live forever. Esther is immortal, and we will continue to show the world that all animals deserve to be loved just like she was.”
In the summer of 2012, Esther moved into her guardian’s home in Toronto, Canada, during the micropig “trend,” where small-sized pigs were bought as “pets” after unscrupulous traders falsely claimed that they would not grow up as other pigs. But Esther, like many others, kept growing, and when she was full-sized she got the nickname “Esther the Wonder Pig.” While she was 600 pounds and had outgrown their home, contrary to other people who had also fallen for the trend, Jenkins and Walter decided to keep Esther as part of her forever family. They were meat-eaters before Esther joined them, but her friendly and loving demeanour eventually made them vegan. They said, “Never in a million years did we think we’d be taking this path in life, but Esther helped us realise there was a better way. She made us want to know more, and the more we learned, the more we knew it was time to change.”
Eventually, Esther became an internet celebrity and an Instagram influencer — the honest kind that would always stay true to her values. Esther reached 578,000 followers on Instagram, where Jenkins and Walter posted photos of her going about her daily life. Many people around the world were captivated by her lovely smiling face and friendly attitude, which created a connection that led them to veganism (The “Esther’s Effect”). Even the famous vegan climate activist Greta Thunberg went to meet Esther, face to face, as one of her influencers.