Italian Sports and TV personality Luca Tramontin loves guinea pigs, so we asked him a few questions about his experience with having guinea pigs as pets. Here is the interview:
Do you generally love animals?
I love animals in general, and dislike the idea of eating them, birds and guinea pigs are top of my list since ever. I had only five in my life, they all have been decisive, relevant, memorable, they are completely different from each other, sometimes I reference a period according to the rodent friend I had those days.
When exactly did it start with Guinea Pigs?
I was a kid, about 3 years old, after surgery at my right hand (I was born with a deformity) I was walking in Milan with both my parents, my hand still bandaged and bleeding, we entered a pet-shop and one “Pirzio” looked me in the eyes. It may have all started there, I don't have other memories of my parents happily together.
You give the impression to be quite grateful to Guinea Pigs.
I think during my turbulent teen age I have to think sport, grandpas and my loved rodents for not entering bigger troubles, after all they have 3 fingers like me, and like me they used them very well without thinking too much. My Grandma Bi'a grew up in Grenoble and said Guinea Pigs were known long before northern Italy, she got fascinated by them in her prime, she may've transmitted it to me.
What about names and...surnames you gave to your Guineas?
The Genre Guinea Pig has a peculiar name in my family and friends' group. One is called “Un Pirzio”, if it's a she “Una Pirzia”, the genre is “I Pirzi”. It comes from a general of the 2nd World War, my brother Diego called Pirzio a Guinea Pig to mock our grandfather, a big lover of animals himself and a superior mind like grandma “Bia” they used to talk to animals. Hence forward the name “Porcellino d'India” (Guinea Pig in Italian) was lost forever. This is about their “surname”.
First names are all in Hungarian, the language of my ancestors, or Serbo-Croatian, my favourite language. Now I have “Mogy”, a lady, the name comes after “Mogyoro'”, brown in Hungarian, his boyfriend is Kriv, which means mistake in croatian. My character in the Tv Serie “Sport Crime” is called Luka Kriv, in honour of my Pirzio, sorry, Guinea Pig.
How do you see them, what do you feel for them?
Guinea Pigs are not toys, and I am okay with this, while I struggle a little bit with knowing they are not persons. I know it, rationally speaking, but feeling-wise I feel them very close to human beings. I am not sure why, but this is me. The way some of them look me in my eyes, the neat impression they know how I feel, things.
Are they good company for an elite sportsman like you?
They are perfect for a sportsman, you don't have to walk them when you are tired, if well fed and clean they can stay a couple of days without you, and they give you much when you are at home. You can ask a friend to take care of them and this is not to hard for them. Part of my job as a player and tv commentator is to watch games at the tv. For years and years I had none, you have to be sure you treat animals well. But I went to visit and enjoy my friends ones, like visiting nephews I guess.
Do you have an episode or an example for this relationship between rugby people and Guinea Pigs?
I was playing in Australia in 1989 when the bad news of Pirzio 1 passing reached me. I played very bad for at least 3 games, I read something similar happened to english cricketer Jimmy Anderson, I fully sympathize. For some reason collision sportsman like rugby or hockey player are supposed to be cold with animals, I can give you for sure it is untrue. When you channel your aggression in sport then you don't need to be aggressive in life, I am very anti-macho. I had a sport superstar in my sons room for a few days, he came incognito, he is over 110 kg., a sweet guy, he fed my Pirzios every few hours, alternating with my son Nico, an Ice Hockey player of about the same size. Hostility to animals is very common among contrived persons and very rare (if any) among happy, aggressive, physical players.
How do you respond to critics?
I know that it is very easy to laugh on someone's animal loving, I used to be very bad in my replies, but we all know what macho people have to hide, so, lately, I feel more sorry than angry, poor people, they feel so proud to shout you that Hitler was vegetarian, let them have fun and enjoy our rodents.
Do Guinea Pigs feature in the Tv Series you are working on? On your work in general?
Not really and not yet. I always kept it very private, I am happy to answer this interview after my colleague Daniela (Scalia, Sport Crime writer and actress) persuaded me that it can help animals.
In the final episode of Sport Crime 1stst season there is a Pirzio but not as a central figure, I plan to have it on the second year. I write quite a bit about it on “Omissions, in Onda e in campo con 3 Dita” (Omissions, Anchoring and Playing with 3 Fingers), but it is not published yet.
I saw there is a Guinea Pig in “House of Cards” but it is not very visible, and is owned by an antisocial hacker, in Sport Crime it will be seen in a totally different light.