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Monster Pig (or Pigzilla) was the subject of a controversial 2007 story that initially ran in the news media as a report (and a series of accompanying photographs) of an eleven-year-old boy shooting a giant feral pig. The pig was claimed to have been shot during a hunt on May 3, 2007 by an eleven-year-old boy named Jamison Stone. The location of the shooting was the Lost Creek Plantation, a commercial hunting preserve outside Anniston, Alabama, USA. According to the hunters (there were no independent witnesses), the pig weighed 1,051 pounds (477 kg) and measured 9 feet 4 inches (2.84 m) in length.
The story quickly ran into veracity problems with news organizations backing off on their coverage when inconsistencies in the story were revealed, including NBC, who canceled their interview with the Stone family when they suspected the story was a hoax. It was pointed out right away that the photographs of the pig released to the media seemed to be purposely posed and doctored to exaggerate scale. It was later also revealed that the "giant feral hog" was actually a large domestic farm-raised pig named "Fred" that had been purchased by the hunting preserve's owner 4 days before the hunt in an apparent publicity stunt. There was a 2008 grand jury investigation of the event based on charges of animal cruelty that was later canceled.
The story, as told by the Stones to the news media, was that on May 3, 2007 11 year old Jamison Stone was hunting a huge feral hog with his father Mike Stone along with Keith O’Neal and Charles Williams, owners of Southeastern Trophy Hunters, on a 2,500-acre farm outside of Ashton, Alabama. Jamison told the media they were invited there by a "friend" who told them about a "big hog he had that was tearing up land". The Stones and the other hunters tracked/chased the hog through the woods and over 3 hours and Jamison Stone fired 16 shots with a .50- caliber Smith & Wesson Model 500 revolver equipped with red dot sight shooting 350-grain Hornady cartridges, hitting it 9 times before he killed it with a head shot. They hauled the pig by truck to the Clay County Farmers Exchange in Lineville where they used a scale, finding out it weighed 1,051-pounds. The hunters also claimed that the pig was 9 feet 4 inches (2.84 m) in length from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail. However, this has not been corroborated by any source.
It was soon revealed that the "hunt" took place in a 150-acre (60 ha) low fence enclosure within the larger 2,500-acre (1,010 ha) commercial hunting preserve called Lost Creek Plantation. A Later claim said that Mr. Stone had paid $1,500 to Eddy Borden, the owner of Lost Creek Plantation, so that his son could shoot a trophy wild hog in the commercial hunting preserve. Other facts were revealed expanding the controversy around this story.
Several days after the story broke, suspicion mounted over the authenticity of the photographic evidence. Retired New York University physicist, Dr. Richard Brandt, used perspective geometry to demonstrate that either the pig was 15 feet long (far bigger than claimed) or the boy in the photo was standing several meters behind the pig, using forced perspective to create the optical illusion that the animal was larger than its actual size. Others claim the photographs were digitally altered.
It has been shown that most of the pictures that were distributed to the media were altered through the use of digital enhancement and perspective to make the pig look much larger than it really was. There were also claims that there were other photographs from the Stone family owned Monsterpig.com website (since removed) that showed a more normal size/scale for the pig. Others claim the photographs were digitally altered.
Despite evidence that the photos were altered, the Stone family website continues to deny that the images were modified to make Monster Pig look larger than its actual size.
The Associated Press (AP) continues to keep the monster pig image in their archives with no disclosures of the forced perspective photo trick having been employed. The monster pig photo has an AP archive caption as if it is a legitimate photograph. The caption states: "In this photo released by Melynne Stone, Jamison Stone, 11, poses with a wild pig he killed near Delta, Ala., May 3, 2007. Stone's father says the hog weighed a staggering 1,051 pounds and measured 9-feet-4 from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail. If claims of the animal's size are true, it would be larger than Hogzilla, the huge hog killed in Georgia in 2004."
Shortly after the story hit the press, the truth about the origins of the pig were revealed. Four days before "Monster Pig" was shot, he lived on a nearby farm, a domesticated, part Duroc hog named "Fred." The owners, Rhonda and Phil Blissitt, stated that the pig loved to play with their grandchildren and his favorite treat was canned sweet potatoes. Previous stories reported that the pig had escaped domestication, however the Blissits in fact sold the pig to the game preserve, and he was released on the reserve four days before being hunted and killed by Stone. According to the Anniston Star report, the Blissitts had raised him from a piglet as a pet. The Blissitts had been selling all of the pigs on their farm, and came forward as they were concerned that Fred was being passed off as a wild pig.
As reported by the Associated Press, the problem with the 1,051 weight was that the scale at the Clay County Coop, according to Jeff Kinder, the man who gave the keys to the scale to the plantation's owner, only weighs in 10 pound increments. Thus, the one-pound weight in 1,051 pounds could not have been measured and made the whole measurement, on its face, incorrect or in part an estimate. The father said he had misunderstood the reading on the scale and believed the true measurement had been 1,060 pounds.
Later news reports brought forward allegations that the entire story was the result of a canned hunt scheme cooked up by Eddy Borden, the owner of Lost Creek Plantation, and Keith O'Neal of Southeastern Trophy Hunters, to build up business for the then four-months-old Lost Creek hunting plantation, trying to create their own news event along the lines of the 2004 “Hogzilla” event. Borden purchased "Fred" from the Blissitts for $250, released it in the enclosure, and passed it off as a wild hog to the unsuspecting Stones. It was also reported that they were told by a local TV station that it would only be a news worthy story if the boy shot the pig.
Stinkyjournalism.org also archived this notice from Southeastern Trophy Hunters' website:
January 29, 2008 saw reports that an Alabama grand jury was investigating Keith O'Neal, Charles Williams, and Lost Creek Plantation owner Eddy Borden over the killing of the pig. The grounds of the investigation was that, since there was no "kill shot" delivered by Jamison Stone, it was animal cruelty to allow a pig to be chased and continually shot by an 11 year old until it bled out when there were experienced marksmen present who could have dispatched it. Clay County District Attorney Fred Thompson later cancelled the grand jury without explanation and the case was never reviewed before the one year statute of limitations was up.
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