Ludwig Huber 2 has become interested in pig behavior and cognition with his appointment as professor for the scientific foundation of animal ethics and human-animal interactions at the Messerli Research Institute in 2011. First he travelled through Austria to visit farmers who kept pigs in free-ranging conditions to explore opportunities for research. He also went to the Bavaria region to visit the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten of Karl Ludwig Schweisfurth and to discuss with him the concept of symbiotic farming. There he met veterinarian Marianne Wondrak who became interested in pig research. Shortly afterwards, Huber explored the possibility of developing an own pig research farm at the Vetmeduni Vienna and found a perfect place at the Haidlhof Research Station. Together with his colleagues from the two other units of the Messerli Research Institute (Prof. Grimm and Prof. Jensen-Jarolim) he submitted a proposal for an interdisciplinary research project "Socio-cognitive abilities of free-ranging pigs, their effects on stress management, and their practical and ethical implications" to the Messerli Foundation in Switzerland. Fortunately, the members of the foundation evaluated it positively and granted a 3-years project including positions for postdocs and PhD students, as well as for the establishment of the pig lab in 2014.



Marianne Wondrak 4 studied Agricultural Science at TU Munich in Weihenstephan (Diploma 2007) and Veterinary Medicine at LMU in Munich (Examen 2012). During her work as a practical vet for swine and cattle, her fascination for pigs and and their widely underestimated abilities grew. Soon she switched to animal welfare and worked as officer for farm animals at German Animal Welfare Organisation. In spring 2014 she started her PhD at Messerli Research Institute and was intensively involved in the setup of the infrastructure of the outdoor husbandry, the breeding of the animals and the practical procedure of the research studies. Since 2016 she is employed as University assistant and Clever Pig Lab manager, her research focus is the socio-cognitive abilities of free-ranging Kune Kune pigs (Sus scrofa domesticus).



Ariane Veit 6 completed the Master program Behavior, Neurobiology and Cognition at the University of Vienna in 2016. Her Master project was devoted to the investigation of observational learning in Kune Kune pigs 7. Already in 2015 she was involved in the Messerli pig project as research assistant, helping with experiments, but also maintenance of the lab, husbandry and especially raising the piglets. Between Jan 2017 and March 2018 she replaced Marianne Wondrak (maternal leave) as pig lab manager. Since April 2018, she was involved as research assistant. In March 2019, she started do her PhD project "Social Learning in Kune Kune pigs - exploring the roles of different sensory modalities and the identities of observers and demonstrators", for which she won an ÖAW grant.



Lisa-Maria Glenks research focus lies on finding valid methods for non-invasive stress- measurement. She was involved in the very first study of the clever pig lab: "Non-invasive stress-measurement during road transportation of semi-feral Kune Kune Pigs. A Pilot Study" while our pigs were brought from the breeder to their destination: Haidlhof Research Station. Secondly she was responsible for assessing methods for collecting saliva samples from free ranging pigs during the study: "Saliva cortisol secretion of free-ranging piglets under natural weaning conditions" and supervised the Master thesis of Larissa Kawasch which was part of the latter study.

Vera Marashi 8 joined the clever pig lab from 1.1.2016 to 31.12.2017 as a replacement during Dr. Lisa-Maria Glenks maternal leave and co-supervised Alexandra Röthel during her Master Thesis "Stress, motivation and learning performance in Kune Kune pigs" and Kerstin Abrahams Diploma Thesis "Saliva cortisol secretion of Kune Kune pigs after a punctual stressor" . 

Judith Benz-Schwarzburg 9 from the Ethics unit explored the Pig Cognition Project in a broader ethical framework. In the papers and presentations which she prepared during the project time she argued that complex socio-cognitive abilities in animals in general and in pigs in specific give rise to welfare implications and to implications beyond welfare. She discussed these ethical findings in connection with psychological and sociological aspects. Benz-Schwarzburg also incorporated in her ethical consideration new developments in the biotech and livestock sector (e.g. the successful gene-editing of super-muscly pigs).

For the last period of the project, Dr. Susana Monsó 10 (also a philosopher by training) joined the group.



Master or diploma students

Melina Lorck-Tympner (2018): Inequity aversion in domestic pigs: the role of social relationship in unequal situations.

Vanessa Bock (2018): Does mood influence the position in hierarchy and social network of free ranging Kune Kune pigs?

Annette Reddingius (2017): The learning from different demonstrators in Kune Kune pigs

Kerstin Abraham (2016): Saliva cortisol secretion of free ranging pigs after a punctual stressor

Alexandra Röthel (2016): The relationship between stress, motivation and cognitive performance in Kune Kune pigs

Larissa Kawasch (2015): Saliva cortisol secretion of free-ranging Kune Kune piglets under natural weaning conditions


Clever Pig Lab