Image: Chris Griffin with enormous hog.
River Oak Plantation via AP file
Chris Griffin, 31, poses beside the enormous wild hog he shot near Alapaha, Ga., in a file photo from June 17, 2004.
updated 3/22/2005 9:54:00 AM ET 2005-03-22T14:54:00

A team of National Geographic experts has confirmed south Georgia’s monster hog, known to locals as Hogzilla, was indeed real — and really, really big.

They also noted the super swine didn’t quite live up to the 1,000-pound, 12-foot hype generated when Hogzilla was caught on a farm last summer and photographed hanging from a backhoe.

Donning biohazard suits to exhume the behemoth’s smelly remains, the experts estimated Hogzilla was probably only 7½ to 8 feet long, and weighed about 800 pounds. The confirmation came in a documentary aired Sunday night on the National Geographic Channel; it will be rebroadcast Wednesday and Saturday.

“He was an impressive beast. He was definitely a freak of nature,” said documentary producer Nancy Donnelly. She said Hogzilla’s tusks — one measuring nearly 18 inches and the other nearly 16 inches — set a new Safari Club International North American free-range record.

That wasn’t good enough for Ken Holyoak, owner of the 1,500-acre fish farm and hunting preserve where Hogzilla was shot by guide Chris Griffin.

“I need to stress that they did not have that much to work with, seeing as how the poor beast had been underground for nearly six months,” he said Monday.

12-foot claim
Holyoak said Hogzilla weighed in at half a ton on his farm scales, and that he personally measured the hog’s length at 12 feet while the freshly killed beast was dangling by straps from a backhoe.

“As with any organic being after death, tissues will decompose and the body will atrophy, making actual measurements change over time,” Holyoak said. “Have you ever seen a raisin after it was a grape?”

Donnelly said the experts allowed for some shrinkage in making their final estimate.

Despite the dispute, this town 180 miles south of Atlanta has already adopted Hogzilla as its own. It went with a Hogzilla theme for its fall festival, with a parade featuring a Hogzilla princess, children in pink pig outfits and a float carrying a Hogzilla replica.

“Our insides were just bubbling,” said Darlene Turner, who hosted a party to watch the documentary Sunday night. “At first, I was afraid it might be an embarrassment. But now I wish everybody could see the documentary. It would take the doubt out of people’s minds.”

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