Airports are stressful places. Would a pig in a blue tutu make you feel any better about nearly missing your flight?
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) hopes so. A pig named LiLou has joined its beloved team of therapy animals known as the Wag Brigade. SFO says LiLou is the first known airport therapy pig in the U.S.
LiLou is a spotted Julianna pig who greets travelers with her snout. She dresses in delightful costumes, such as angel wings, a sombrero, and even a pilot’s hat. (Note: LiLou does not fly the plane.) She also performs tricks for frazzled travelers, like standing up on her back hooves, pushing a ball with her snout and playing a toy piano.
SFO’s Wag Brigade is intended to reduce airport anxiety and make air travel more enjoyable. In addition to LiLou, the program includes 22 cuddly dogs that range in size and breed, from a tiny Yorkshire terrier named Moxie to a 70-pound goldendoodle named Toby. The animals wander through the airport’s terminals wearing “Pet Me” signs to encourage interaction with exhausted passengers. They’re not to be confused with working service dogs or airport security dogs that you should never pet.
Therapy animals have become popular additions to airports as a way of calming nervous and stressed-out travelers. More than 30 airports across the U.S. have therapy dogs, including Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Miami International Airport (MIA) and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT). At LAX, the program is called PUP, or Pets Unstressing Passengers. Miniature therapy horses make regular visits to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).
Airport therapy animals are trained before joining the programs. Members of SFO’s Wag Brigade have been certified by the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Assisted Therapy Program, and many, like LiLou, visit other facilities in the area, such as hospitals and senior centers.
If you’re not lucky enough to meet LiLou at SFO, you can follow her on Instagram.
Final snout kisses with our awesome SFO coordinator, as we ended our #volunteer visit meeting travelers from around the world! 🐽 #lilouthepig #lilou #sfpig #piglife #therapypig #charity #animalassistedtherapy #wagbrigade #sfspca #sfo #pigsofinstagram #pigstagram #petsofinstagram #petstagram #petpig #education #holidaytravel #stressed #airport