ALAPAHA, Ga. - The legend of Hogzilla, the prodigious porker that was supposedly shot on a nearby plantation, will be featured in a spring episode on the National Geographic Channel.
Since rumors of the hog's existence began spreading in June, newspapers around the world have carried stories on the half-ton beast that supposedly had 9-inch tusks and measured 12 feet long.
Two weeks ago, a group of forensic scientists and a National Geographic Channel television crew traveled to Alapaha and unearthed the animal's remains.
Although officials are keeping silent on their findings, property owner Ken Holyoak said they did confirm the remains were found, studied and then reburied at the original site. Holyoak owns the River Oak Plantation and Ken's Fish Hatchery, where Hogzilla was killed.
"They said when we get the reports, we're going to be really happy," Holyoak said. "I'm just glad they came down here to do this.... It's time to get the truth out there."
The National Geographic Channel, which has acquired the rights to the award-winning Explorer documentary series, will begin airing Explorer programs in January, said Chris Albert, communications director for the National Geographic Channel. Hogzilla will be among the first episodes, he said. Albert declined Monday to provide any details on what the Hogzilla show will reveal.
Hogzilla has created quite a stir in the hearts of people in Alapaha, a town of 186 people 125 miles south of Macon.
Although some residents doubt his existence, the wild hog has brought the city almost instant fame and even became the mascot of their annual fall festival. Holyoak pulled a float during the festival that featured a life-sized replica of Hogzilla.
"We've had a hogzilla of a time with this," said Darlene Turner, who operates her family's business, Jernigan's Farm Supply. "It has put us on the map."
Holyoak said Monday that the National Geographic crew wore respirators while they worked with Hogzilla's remains.
"It looked like a dead hog," he said. "It had been in there five months, so it didn't smell good either.
"They spent a solid week digging him up, measuring and sampling," Holyoak said. "They don't want to do a documentary unless it's 100 percent accurate."
Last spring, one of Holyoak's employees told him he kept seeing a large hog roaming around their property. In June, Chris Griffin shot the animal and then called his boss.
"I went right over there and couldn't believe it," Holyoak said. "His head was about as big as a car tire."
Reports of Griffin's big trophy has made him a local celebrity. People ask for his autograph.
Because the large animal wouldn't fit in a freezer intact and the meat was not suitable for eating, Holyoak said he and his crew decided to bury the animal. They cut Hogzilla's head off and put it in an undisclosed place because they were afraid someone would steal it. The rest of the carcass was buried in a grave marked by a white cross.
Although Holyoak took a few pictures and had several witnesses sign affidavits about what they saw, many people have doubted the story.
"I finally started telling people that I didn't care if they believed it or not," Holyoak said. "I knew what I saw and how big it was."
Now, maybe the National Geographic show will satisfy some of the doubters, he said.
"Up to now, they've just got my word," he said. "But everybody who knows me, knows I don't tell anything wrong. I've already said my say, and a lot of people didn't believe it. Now we'll let them have their say."