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Celebrate Guinea Pigs At OCCH’s So Cal Pignic In Irvine, California!

It’s time again for guinea pig fun at the second annual So Cal Pignic organized by Orange County Cavy Haven to benefit its guinea pig rescue efforts.

BY Marylou Zarbock
Posted: July 6, 2012, 7 a.m. EDT

portrait of Jackie the guinea pig
Courtesy of Orange County Cavy Haven
Jackie is one of the guinea pigs at Orange County Cavy Haven that needs a home.

Guinea pigs, guinea pig owners and guinea pig enthusiasts can have a “pigtastic” time at the upcoming So Cal Pignic organized by Orange County Cavy Haven. It takes place at the Irvine Animal Care Center at 6443 Oak Canyon Road in Irvine, California, on Sunday July 15, 2012. This might have you wondering, "What’s a “pignic”?

“The Pignic is a day of family fun, and an education and outreach event as well as a fundraiser for the rescue, so it is not a typical adoption event for us,” said Michiko Vartanian, a volunteer with Orange County Cavy Haven and coordinator for the pignic. “It’s also an opportunity outside of our regular events for people to bring their guinea pigs for grooming and health checks.”

The So Cal Pignic includes adoptable guinea pigs, booths to browse for guinea pig merchandise, a silent auction and raffle to raise funds, a talk on guinea pig health by Sari Kanfer, DVM, of the Exotic Animal Care Center and games for guinea pigs. Guinea pig games? Of course! Games include an eating contest and a costume contest.

This is the second year that Orange County Cavy Haven has organized the pignic. “We had over 80 attendees and their pigs last year,” Vartanian said. “As far as Pignics go, that was a pretty large crowd. We are expecting at least that many this year and already have about twice as many signed up on our Facebook event than were signed up this time last year.”

The So Cal Pignic takes place on the lawn of the Irvine Animal Care Center. Because the weather can be fairly warm in July, Vartanian said that anyone bringing their guinea pigs should also bring an exercise pen for their pet to relax in and bottles of frozen water to place in the exercise pen to help the guinea pigs keep cool. Owners should also bring a chair or blanket to sit on. In the unlikely event of rain, the event is cancelled.

people watch the guinea pig eating contest
Courtesy of Orange County Cavy Haven
The eating contest was one of the game highlights at last year's Pignic.

“The most memorable part of last year’s event for me was the veggie-eating contest,” Vartanian said. “It was so cute to see so many people sitting in a big circle with their piggies and watching all of the piggies to see who would finish their piece of lettuce first. There were some rather large pigs competing in the contest, and so it was quite a shock when a little tiny pig won. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the pig’s name; however, I do know that many pigs have been exercising their jaw muscles for a rematch this year.”

Vartanian added that the raffles are a lot of fun. The Orange County Cavy Haven received many donations for the event last year. “The event is four hours long, so it was nice to be able to have the raffles to bring some excitement between contests and the cavy vet talk,” she said. “I really enjoyed watching everyone win their prizes and have a great time. This year, we got just as many wonderful donations, so we will be able to have two raffles and a silent auction again.”

mother and daughter guinea pigs
Courtesy of Orange County Cavy Haven
Coco and Lola are a mother/daughter pair awaiting homes at OCCH..
portrait of Bandit the guinea pig
Courtesy of Orange County Cavy Haven
Bandit is a 2-year-old guinea pig boar who needs a home.

For usual picnics, food is the focus, and the So Cal Pignic has that covered, too. Sprouts Farmers Market is providing vegetables for guinea pig guests to munch on, and guinea pig owners can purchase lunch items from OCCH. “There will be a variety of snacks donated by Trader Joe’s,” Vartanian said. “We will also be selling slices of zPizza -- cheese and Berkeley Vegan -- donated by zPizza, and vegan sandwiches donated by Phoney Baloney’s, a new vegan eatery that just opened up in Irvine.” For those with a sweet tooth, she said that Snopel’s Bakery will be on-site selling its vegan baked goods.

To commemorate the day, people can get a professional picture taken of their guinea pig at the Firelight Photography booth for a $7 donation for one or $10 donation for two to Orange County Cavy Haven.

“The Pignic is a way for us to celebrate with people who have adopted from us, or any rescue, or who are considering adopting,” Vartanian said. “Naturally, we are hoping to raise some much-needed funds for the rescue, as we are all fully volunteer-run and donor-funded. All of the proceeds go back to the rescue. However, the main goal of the Pignic is to reach as many people as possible in a positive way and to celebrate all of the wonderful families and pigs who have become an extended part of the Cavy Haven family.”

Admission to the So Cal Pignic is $5 for adults and $3 for children. This cost includes a health check and grooming for any guinea pig attendees. All proceeds support Orange County Cavy Haven, which rescues guinea pigs from animal shelters in Orange County, Los Angeles and Riverside. The OCCH typically has between 80 to 100 guinea pigs in its foster network, which includes 40 to 50 foster homes in Orange County, Los Angeles and Riverside.

For Further Pignic Information
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“Right now we have 44 foster homes and are always looking for more,” Vartanian said. “We provide all the supplies, feed and veterinary care for our guinea pigs; the foster home provides daily fresh veggies. Every year, we adopt out between 75 to 100 guinea pigs, and we assist in rescuing and transporting between 50 and 100 more to other rescues in Southern California.” OCCH started rescuing guinea pigs in 2003, and some of the rescues it works with include The Los Angeles Guinea Pig Rescue, The Bunny Bunch, and Wee Companions.

Note: Information about the photography at the event was updated after the article first posted.

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