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The Tamworth Two were a pair of pigs that escaped while being unloaded from a lorry at an abattoir in the English town of Malmesbury, Wiltshire in January 1998. The pigs (later named Butch and Sundance after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) were on the run for more than a week, and the search for them caused a huge media sensation, as well as immense public interest, both in Britain and abroad.
Butch (a sow) and Sundance (a boar) were sister and brother Tamworth pigs. Both were five months old when their owner took them by lorry to V & G Newman's Abattoir in Malmesbury on 8 January 1998. Just after they were unloaded from the truck, the two pigs escaped by squeezing through a fence and swimming across the River Avon, escaping into nearby gardens.
The two pigs spent most of their week of freedom in a dense thicket near Tetbury Hill. As the story of their escape broke, media interest in the escaped pigs soared across the country, the press dubbing the pair "Butch and Sundance" after the American outlaws. The American NBC network and several Japanese media outlets were among the international media to show a great interest in the story and to send reporters to cover the tale.
The pigs were estimated to be worth £40-50 each, and their owner, Arnoldo Dijulio, stated that he still intended to send the pair to slaughter should they be recaptured. After making this statement, Dijulio was offered large sums of money by media outlets and animal lovers to save the pigs from the dinner table. Eventually, the Daily Mail newspaper bought the pigs from Dijulio in return for exclusive rights to their story.
Butch was eventually captured on the evening of 15 January, when she and Sundance were spotted foraging in the garden of a local couple, Harold and Mary Clarke. Sundance escaped into the thicket once again, but he was flushed out the next day by two springer spaniels and tranquilised with a dart gun. He was taken to a veterinary surgery to recover over the weekend.
The two pigs lived – courtesy of the Daily Mail – at the Rare Breeds Centre, an animal sanctuary near Ashford in Kent. Butch died aged 13 on 8 October 2010, put to sleep after becoming seriously ill. Seven months later, Sundance, aged 14, suffering from arthritis, and "much quieter" after his sister's death, was put down on 23 May 2011. Staff at the Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch near Ashford, Kent, are considering putting up a plaque in memory of Butch and Sundance.
In 2003, the BBC produced and broadcast a 60-minute television drama called The Legend of the Tamworth Two.
- O'Neill, Sean. Swimming boars save their bacon, Daily Telegraph, 14 January 1998
- O'Neill, Sean. Pig knocks the stuffing out of police, Daily Telegraph, 16 January 1998
- Happy ever after for Butch and Sundance?, BBC News, 16 January 1998.
- O'Neill, Sean. Dart stops Sundance pig in his tracks, Daily Telegraph, 17 January 1998
- Tamworth Two pig tale on film, BBC News, 26 August 2003.
- BBC - The Legend of the Tamworth Two homepage
- The Legend of the Tamworth Two on IMDB
- Rare Breeds Centre - current home of Sundance
- Death of Butch reported by the BBC