Fact Check


Does a photograph show a 12-foot-long, 1000-lb. hog dubbed 'Hogzilla'?

Published July 29, 2004


Claim:   Photograph shows a 12-foot-long, 1000-lb. hog dubbed 'Hogzilla.'

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

Around these parts, they are calling it Hogzilla: a 12-foot-long wild hog recently killed on a plantation and now quickly becoming a part of local legend.

The plantation's owner claims the hog weighed 1,000 pounds and had 9-inch tusks. But few people have actually seen the hog — the only proof being a photo that shows the dead beast hanging from a rope.

Click to enlarge
Chris Griffin and 'Hogzilla'

Whether the hog ever actually existed or is some sort of Faulknerian myth, it has definitely been the topic of conversation in small towns across southern Georgia.

"People just back up and ask 'Is it real?' They can't believe that there's a hog that big in the woods," said Drew White, who has a copy of the photo on display at an auto parts store in Tifton, about 17 miles away.

Chris Griffin said he killed the beast last month at the River Oak Plantation, where he is a hunting guide, and has been showing off the picture around this small farming community ever since. The hog is nearly twice as long as the 6-foot-tall Griffin, who is seen standing next to it in the photo.

"They say 'Man, you look like a dwarf compared to that thing,'" he said Wednesday.

The picture is all Griffin has to back up his claims. He and Ken Holyoak, owner of the plantation, buried the beast on the property and did not want to hassle with slaughtering it since the meat of large feral hogs is typically not very good.

Holyoak said he decided that the hog's head also wasn't worth keeping because it was too large to mount on a wall. He said the head has the diameter of a tire on a compact car.

"We had to lift him with a backhoe," he said.

No one maintains official records on hog kills in Georgia. But Department of Natural Resources biologist Kent Kammermeyer, who helped write a booklet on feral-hog problems in the state, said he has never heard of one as large as Hogzilla.

Holyoak said the plantation's previous record was a 695-pound hog shot several years ago. Enough wild hogs roam Holyoak's plantation that he has made it a side business to allow people to hunt them, but he said "Hogzilla" was too big to let someone else shoot.

"We killed it because we didn't want to take a chance of him getting away. Somebody else would have shot it," he said.

Feral hogs, popularly known as wild hogs, are domestic hogs that escaped from farms and began living off the land. They lay waste to corn and peanut fields and deprive more than 100 species &mdash including squirrels and deer — of food.

"It's a big problem and it's getting worse," Kammermeyer said. "If you have a lot of hogs, you're going to have problems. Hogs are very aggressive. They run deer off and they can be dangerous if wounded or cornered."

Holyoak said he had to climb into a deer stand a few years back to escape a raging hog that circled around for six hours, foaming at the mouth and snapping at branches.

"They say bears get mad when you mess with their babies," Holyoak said. "Hogs don't need a reason to get mad and come after you."

Origins:   The "Hogzilla"

photo that took the Internet by storm in the last week of July 2004 is an oddity in the world of online rumor, in that the presenting tale and its accompanying snapshot of a giant hog strung over a pit went unnoticed until the media popularized it. Prior to its appearance on the web sites of CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and Yahoo! News, the Associated Press article casting doubt on the veracity of a giant hog's being shot on a Georgia plantation had not circulated in cyberspace.

Datelined Alapaha, Georgia, the 28 July 2004 Associated Press article advised readers to remain somewhat skeptical of the tale because its writer had been unable to verify the size or weight of the hog, or indeed any of the other details given in the account. Only

Click to enlarge
Hogzilla Float, Nov. 2004

two people supposedly saw the beast: its slayer, and the owner of the property where it was downed. Chris Griffin, the hog's slayer, said he and Ken Holyoak, the owner of the River Oak Plantation, buried Hogzilla on the property. The photograph was taken sometime in June 2004 near Alapaha, a town with a population of 682.

Holyoak claimed that because he couldn't fit the huge animal in his freezer intact, and its meat was not suitable for eating, he and his crew decided to bury it instead. He maintained they cut off the head (described by Holyoak as "about as big as a car tire") and interred it separately from the rest of the hog's remains in an undisclosed location because they were feared someone would try to steal it. Nonetheless, there was reason to doubt the claim of the hog's weighing a thousand pounds — not only aren't feral hogs known to grow to that size, but one has to wonder how the killer of this particular ground-rooter came by the "1000 lbs." figure. It's not as if folks routinely port about scales capable of weighing something that large, and according to the AP account, the hog was never dragged to any location where it could have been weighed.

Farm-raised hogs, however, have been known to grow to sizes even larger than that claimed of Hogzilla:

Darrell Anderson, CEO of the Lafayette, Ind.-based National Swine Registry, said farm-raised hogs grow as large as 1,300 pounds and measure as long as 7 feet along the backbone from head to tail. "If you hang them by their hind legs and you have the front legs stretching out, you'll get another four or five feet," he said.

A hog that size would probably be 5 years old, he said. The animals will grow tusks in the wild. Domesticated, their tusks are trimmed because they are dangerous.

Although the photograph is real, it contains clues to a bit of exaggeration in the telling of this tale: the man pictured beside the strung-up hog is standing in an area that has been dug up. Once one accounts for the remainder of the man's legs (which are hidden from view in the pit) and

mentally compares the complete figure with the suspended hog, the claim of the beast's being "nearly twice as long as the 6-foot-tall Griffin" collapses, because the human figure comes up only a bit shorter than that of the felled animal.

Likewise, a mental comparison of the supposed "9-inch tusks" to the man's hand shows them to span the same distance as the tips of his fingers to their base, a distance of about 3 to 4 inches on a typical fellow. Even if one judges the span to terminate in the mid-palm region, that would still make the tusks far shorter than reported, in that such span is typically 4 to 5 inches on an adult man.

Also, items placed in the foreground of photos tend to look larger than they are, and in this picture the man is standing to the rear of the hog. The beast, therefore, looks bigger in comparison to the man than it would if the two had been snapped side by side. Indeed, when the National Geographic Society sent a team of scientists to exhume Hogzilla, what they found was not a 12-foot behemoth of a hog, but an animal they estimated had measured about 7-1/2 feet in length and weighed around 800 lbs. — a hybrid of wild boar and domestic Hampshire pig that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution described as "large, perhaps even record-setting large, but not hide-the-children-and-get-your-guns large."

May 2007 brought both the announcement that an independent filmmaker was planning to produce a horror movie about the monster porker (to be entitled The Legend of Hogzilla) and the claim that an 11-year-old Alabama boy had killed a hog even bigger than the renowned super swine:

According to various news reports, on 3 May 2007 near Delta, Alabama, 11-year-old Jamison Stone used a pistol to shoot and kill a wild hog weighing a staggering 1,051 pounds and measuring an incredible 9-feet-4 from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail — measurements which, if documented, would make the creature considerably larger than Hogzilla. Since then, much debate has raged about whether the photographs of the monster pig were genuine, whether the creature was really as big as claimed, and whether the animal was truly feral rather than a domesticated hog that had been raised as a pet and had only recently been released into a hunting preserve (where Jamison shot it).

At the MonsterPig web site wet up to publicize Jamison's feat, the boy's father now says:

The news media used [the pig] for headlines for a week, claiming its size was a hoax. On the evening of May 31, I was contacted by Bran Strickland of the Anniston Star and he told me that he had good news and bad news. He said that the good news is your claims about the pig's massive size have been verified. The bad news is that he came from a hog breeder and that the pig had been sold from the breeder to the preserve for the purpose of hunting. Early on the morning of June 1, I went to the computer and read Bran's article which portrayed the pig as a family pet. The pig that Jamison killed did not act like a family pet. It was a very aggressive animal. I was upset at first to read this report but after going through a week of being told what we killed did not exist by the network media, I decided to get to the bottom of this myself. I got my whole family up at 6:00 a.m. and traveled to Heflin, AL to meet with the Blissitts to give Phil Blissitt, whom I have never met or talked to before, the opportunity to explain to Jamison why he had sold a pig that was described as being so gentle and sweet to a hunting preserve in order for someone to come and kill it.

Barbara "hog wild" Mikkelson

Last updated:   2 June 2007

  Sources Sources:

    Brumback, Kate.   "Boy Bags Hog Said Bigger Than 'Hogzilla'."

    Associated Press.   25 May 2007.

    Crawford, Sharon E.   "National Geographic Channel Unearths Legend of Hogzilla."

    The Macon Telegraph.   22 November 2004.

    Kessler, John.   "Epilogue to the Tale of a Hog: A Big Dig for a Big Pig."

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   19 March 2005.

    Minor, Elliott.   "Legend Grows Around 1,000-Pound Ga. Hog."

    Associated Press.   28 July 2004.

    Minor, Elliott.   "Georgia Town Celebrates 'Hogzilla' Legend."

    Associated Press.   13 November 2004.

    Torpy, Bill.   "Town Eats up Tale of 'Hogzilla.'"

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   30 July 2004.

    Associated Press.   "Legendary 'Hogzilla' to Hit Big Screen."

    The Washington Post.   29 April 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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