Thoughts from the front lines

How smart are pigoons?



In Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy, we have seen that she describes the pigoons as one of the smartest animals in the books. They know the rifle; they know to use the tactics and almost catch Jimmy one time; they know to distract humans’ attention so that they can get into the garden; they even hold a funeral for their dead companions, and so on. In one word, they’re sly. Furthermore, in the book Maddaddam, Margaret mentions the pigoons communicate with each other and they even want to communicate with the survivors of the waterless flood. One morning, they come to the humans’ place and wish to have a talk with them. Margaret says, “there are fifty or so in all. Fifty adults, that is: several of the sows have litters of piglets, trotting along beside their mothers. … a low level of grunting is going on, from pig to pig. If they were people, Toby thinks, you’d say it was the murmuring of a crowd. It must be information exchange’ but God knows what sort of information” (Atwood 267-268). This passage shows that the pigoons can exchange ideas with each other. It’s very strange. As we know, the pigoons have the brain tissues which are similar to humans’, therefore they are smarter than the ordinary pigs. But how smart are they? We don’t have the answer, but we can test out how smart the ordinary pigs are.

According to “The 10 smartest animals”, Science on NBC NEWS, the author says that the pigs are perhaps “the smartest, cleanest domestic animals known, even more so than cats and dogs”. The experiments of testing pigs’ intelligence even started in the 1990s. Furthermore, according to the neuroscientist Lori Marino of Emory University, “we have shown that pigs share a number of cognition capacities with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins and even humans”.

Well, some of the intelligent animals are considered to have the same IQ level as a preschooler and even a little child (until about 9). It’s hard to think about the pigoons may have the same level of intelligence as our human children. I mean, maybe like your 9 years old little brother or sister. It’s incredible. On the other hand, I think it could be true because some of their abilities are beyond the scope of ordinary animals should have. So what do you think? Did you find any other clues in the book and in our real world to support or against this idea?



Atwood, Margaret. The Year of the Flood. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2010. Print.

“The 10 smartest animals”, Science on NBCNEWS,               science/t/smartest-animals/#.WPwE8zsrJhG

Viegas, Jen. “IQ tests suggest pigs are smart as dogs, chimps”, Seeker,         1769934406.html


2 thoughts on “How smart are pigoons?

  1. Pigoons are smart, there’s no doubt about it. What I found really interesting about them is how they progressed from being the “enemies” at the beginning of the trilogy to friends, and what it took for them to make this change of heart. In the first novel, Jimmy was trapped in and almost killed by a mob of Pigoons – maybe the same Pigoons that were leading the pack at the end of MaddAddam. They only started to show signs of amity when their own kind were being killed by Painballers, a mutual enemy of humans and Crakers. In it of itself, this is a really big sign of intelligence considering Pigoons are able to make inter-species agreements and treaties, if you will. It’s crazy how smart Pigoons are!


  2. I can definitely say with confidence that pigoons are something special. From developing a strategy to overthrow Jimmy, to having ceremonial rituals and communicating perhaps telepathically with the Crakers; what else can this species do. It is also very accurate for Atwood to represent these pigoons having optimum intelligence for an animal since everyone knows that in real life pigs are extremely intelligent. Even if these book pigoons have abnormal traits compared to real life pigs, it still hits home and gives some chills thinking that this may be a thing one day and not just Atwood’s creative imagination. It’s not like scientist aren’t developing new scientific methods to accomplish certain aspects that Atwood mentions in her book.


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