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Ready for their close-up

Molly Shore

Pigs don’t like to jump, they dislike water and they’re afraid of

heights. But somebody forgot to tell Tobi.

The 11-week-old potbellied pig, owned by Toni Silicio-Prebezac of


Edmonds, Wash., strutted his stuff during a taping of Animal Planet’s

“Pet Star” talent show Wednesday at NBC Studios.

After rolling out a red carpet with his snout, the 12-pound porker

jumped hurdles, climbed up to a slide and slid belly first into a


child’s wading pool.

“He’s a courageous little pig because he does all those things

which go against his nature,” Silicio-Prebezac said. “I thought it

would be more unusual for an animal who is unusual to do unusual


Tobi was one of 10 acts competing for a $2,500 cash prize in the

cable TV show, now in its second season. Other acts included a dog

balancing a basketball on his nose, two acrobatic cats that respond


to Russian language commands, and a bird that performs on miniature

gym rings.

“These are pets like yours, little Fluffy and Muffy at home, that

come here to do their tricks,” show host Mario Lopez said.

Mary Matzke, who owns Beau, a male 3-year-old Jack Russell

terrier, never trained him to balance a basketball. The spunky little

dog watched Matzke’s children play soccer and decided he wanted to

play, too. From that time on, the ball was always his.


“Now people drive by and just stop to watch him,” Matzke said.

Matzke, who lives in Rochester, Minn., said that Beau wants to

play year-round.

“In wintertime we have to clear a path,” she said. “In fact, in

the middle of the night he gets me up so he can play.”

Matzke and other owners and their pets are flown to Los Angeles by

the “Pet Star” production company, producer Richard Crystal said.

Several motels, including the Safari Inn on Olive Avenue, allow

animals in the rooms, he said.

“One of the most amazing [animals] we had was an otter,” Crystal

said. “The trainer, from the Everglades in Florida, taught it how to

fetch keys from a tank of water and then bring them back to him.”