Zootopia’s mayor was originally a woman – and a pig

Original versions of the Disney hit had a sow named Mayor Swinton running the city

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 June, 2016, 3:21pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 June, 2016, 3:21pm

Zootopia’s highest public office originally was held by a lipstick-wearing pig.

In early versions of Disney’s animated mega-hit Zootopia, featuring an all-animal metropolis, directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore had Mayor Swinton ruling the city.

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“We found in our research that pigs are one of the most intelligent animals,” says Howard. Adds Moore: “Swinton was very urbane and intelligent, a politician of the people.”

Swinton eventually was impeached from office by the directors – overtaken by the ultimate predator, Mayor Lionheart, the blustery big cat voiced by J.K. Simmons.

But her role lives on in the extras, along with other deleted characters, on the Zootopia Blu-ray release.

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As to why Lionheart took the role from Swinton, the directors cite traditional animal law, even in a movie where predators and prey live together peacefully.

“It was like, why don’t we make the city mayor the top of what we know in the animal world?” says Moore. “The lion is the king of the jungle. And from there, we wanted to start turning the animal world on its head.”

Swinton also was a surprise villain in the initial story draft, harbouring a secret grudge against the dominant predatory mammals of Zootopia, who began to disappear mysteriously.

“She’s kind of soft and pink, and we thought it would be an interesting thing to have Swinton be this murderous villain,” says Howard.

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The role of Zootopia’s true villain went to another character. (We won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen the movie yet.)

Swinton didn’t die completely. A scaled-down version of the pig showed up fleetingly as a prison warden at the end of Zootopia.

“With many of these characters we cut, we do recycle them,” says Moore. “And Swinton wouldn’t be the first politician to end up in jail.”