The Gentle Barn opened its gates to the public to celebrate the birthdays of three of its rescued pigs on Sunday.
Hundreds of visitors gathered as founder Ellie Laks celebrated the birthdays of 12-year-old Zeus, 15-year-old Jellie and 5-year-old Honey Bear. Walking from pig to pig, Laks carried their cake – a watermelon slathered in vegan frosting and topped with strawberries – to each of them.
Grown to a massive size, Zeus was genetically engineered for slaughter until he was rescued and brought to The Gentle Barn. Zeus has served as a source of attention for classes on field trips and at-risk adults who go to the barn. With all the visitors, he’s undergone hundreds of thousands of belly rubs, Laks added.
“We have given him Sun Chlorella algae superfood, organic fruits and vegetables every day, lots and lots of exercise, a low-calorie grain diet – we’ve been able to get him to 12 (years old),” Laks said. “So he’s the oldest pig in the history of The Gentle Barn. We’re very excited about it. We never had a pig this long.”
Along with visitors from across the Santa Clarita Valley, actresses Alicia Silverstone and Christian Serratos also joined the celebration and “love piggies with us,” Laks said. Both support causes defending the rights of animals.
Serratos attended The Gentle Barn last year, when Laks named a rescued mother cow “Rosita” after Serratos’ character from “The Walking Dead.” She said it was beautiful to see Laks’ work with the animals and felt it important to bring her daughter as a way to learn about the treatment of animals.
“It’s really great there’s so many people,” Serratos said. “This is proof, you know, just when you think that the world is going to hell there’s so many people who come out with their families on Easter Sunday and show their support and are so kind.”
Guests could also meet with the other animals, including King the llama and Earl the emu. Kayleb Rolfe, who stopped by with his friends Brittany Parks and Amber Hewitt, had a brief encounter with Earl after seeing Zeus.
“I like the story (Laks) told, where she puts him to bed every night and gives him his pillow,” Parks said. “I thought that was cute, and he’s huge. He’s such a sweetheart. I think it’s really incredible that they’re all connecting with the animals.”