Mini Pot-Bellied Pigs Ham It Up Visiting Patients With Alzheimer's Disease

05/27/2015 06:11 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2015

Pumba and Boris are two mini pot-bellied pigs with one big job.

Every weekend, they visit Highline Place in Littleton, Colorado, an assisted living community for residents who have Alzheimer’s disease or other types of memory loss, KUSA reports. The pigs are a delightful surprise, and provide joy and love to everyone at the home, the organization says.

“[Even] though we love small children and dogs and other animals, it's the surprise factor of pigs. And one of the gifts with Alzheimer's is, you can use a lot of surprises," Elle Fore, director of Vibrant Living at Highline Place, told KUSA.

The pigs come to the home each week with Erin Brinkley-Burgardt, the director and founder of Hog Haven -- a Denver nonprofit for pot-bellied pigs. Though Boris and Pumba are not certified therapy animals, they have proven to have a positive impact on people experiencing memory loss.

“Pumba and Boris like attention and they like people in particular,” Brinkley-Burgardt told the Littleton Independent. “The biggest thing is they bring cheer to an atmosphere that can be a pretty dark place.”

In addition to their visits to Highline Place, the pair has monthly sessions at Wind Crest, a nearby retirement community for residents living with forms of dementia. Brinkley-Burgardt, whose grandfather had dementia in the later years of his life, told the Independent that she believes the pigs make good comfort animals because of their sociability and friendly demeanor.

Here's a picture from our therapy pig visit on Wednesday. The pigs (Boris and Pumba) were a hit!

According to its website, Hog Haven has recently filed for 501(c)(3) status, and is continuing its community outreach programs to living facilities and schools in the Denver Metro area. And, the pigs seem pretty pleased with how things are going, too.

"They go up to anyone holding a carrot," Brinkley-Burgardt said to KUSA about their visits. "They really love all the attention they get here."

A photo posted by Hog Haven Farm (@hoghaven) on

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