Move over Miss Piggy. Step aside Wilbur. There’s a new star with a snout and her name is Joy.
The American mini-pig belongs to the Bleeker family and serves as the mascot for the family-owned Capitol II Theatre in Newton. While many know the pig from the movie theater, thanks to Iowa Public Television soon Joy will have a new title — TV star.
Newton’s most famous pig will be featured on the new “IPTV KIDS Clubhouse” airing this summer. The show will be hosted by former Newton resident Dan Wardell, who has been traveling the state and meeting with Iowa children for nearly a decade as part of IPTV’s “Reading Road Trip.” Wardell’s new show is set to begin airing June 3.
“Joy’s segment will be part of the pets episode which currently is scheduled to air on July 1 and 2, with replays broadcasting following,” said Patrick Boberg, IPTV Producer/Director who filmed Joy in action on Wednesday afternoon. “The general airtime info is Fridays at 7 a.m. with a repeat at 4 p.m., and airing again Saturday at 7 a.m.”
Dawn Bleeker, along with her family, take Joy to area preschools and visit nursing homes to share tricks, stories and information about owning a mini pig. For the taping of the IPTV show Bleeker and Joy visited SHARE Preschool where Joy showed off many of her tricks. Some of her tricks include sitting, giving kisses, honking a horn, pushing balls on the floor, bowling, going through a tunnel and even playing the piano with her snout.
“Depending on the difficulty of the trick, it can take Joy seconds to hours,” Bleeker said. ”Honking the bike horn took seconds because I put peanut butter on the rubber end. She caught on very quickly that if she bit down, the horn would sound and she would get another treat. Teaching Joy to take rings off a baby ring stacker toy took a few hours spread out over many days. I’m still working with her to perfect putting the ring back on the stick,” Bleeker said.
With an impressive arsenal of tricks, Joy entertained the preschoolers, parents and teachers at SHARE on Wednesday, and soon she will have a statewide audience on TV. Bleeker said she hopes people enjoy learning more about Joy and mini pigs as pets.
“I think it’s great for people, kids to see Joy in action so they can be educated on mini pigs,” Bleeker said. “People are always amazed at the intelligence of mini pigs. They start comparing mini pigs to their pet dogs and realize they are similar to having a pet dog or that Joy can do more things than their pet dog. People start looking at mini pigs as pets.”
Boberg said featuring Joy on “ITPV KIDS Clubhouse” will offer children around the state an opportunity to learn about a unique pet and see pigs in a different light.
“Simply put, Joy stands out because she is a pig,” Boberg said. “I’m sure plenty of Iowa kids grow up in pig farming families, but I doubt many of them grow up with pet mini pigs that have their own room in the house and are allowed to sit on the family couch. I’m sure the kids who see Joy on the show will have the same excited reaction the Newton kids had to her.”
Whether stardom works out for Joy or not she seems pretty content on getting marshmallows as treats for her tricks but Hollywood may not be far off since the pet pig already has one new fan in the TV industry.
“Well, now that I’ve seen a pig play the piano, stack rings and honk a bike horn, I will never again joke about pigs flying,” Boberg said.
Not only is Joy a soon-to-be TV star, she is also a pig fashion icon.
Joy's movie theater popcorn dress and tutu she'll be wearing on her IPTV debut was made especially for the Newton pig by Snort Life, an online store for mini pig clothing and accessories.
"I had the outfit custom made by another fellow mini pig owner from Florida that started a pig clothing business called Snort Life," said Dawn Bleeker, Joy's owner. "I wanted the fabric to be theater or popcorn themed, so the owner and I went out on the Internet to find fabric to match my idea."
The outfit turned out so well now other piggys wanting to be fashionable can order an identical version of Joy's Pop'n Tutu Dress at snortlife.com for $39.99.