Humans of Long Beach: Jessica Le and Her Guinea Pigs

Story by Roslin Ojeda

Photos courtesy of Jessica Le

When it comes to pets, one might imagine a dog, a cat or even a turtle. But what about hairless guinea pigs? We sat down with Jessica Le, a girl who fell in love with hairless guinea pigs (also known as skinny pigs) and now dedicates herself to creating unique photo shoots with her three girls.

Jessica Le with her boyfriend, Alex Peña, a.k.a their dad. He's holding Gizmo and she’s holding Haskins.

Jessica Le with her boyfriend, Alex Peña, a.k.a their dad. He's holding Gizmo and she’s holding Haskins.

Name: Jessica Le

Age: 19

Major: Drawing and painting

Hometown: Garden Grove, CA

Q: So tell me, when did you first fall in love with hairless guinea pigs?

A: I was strolling through my local pet store when I came across my first hairless guinea pig. My first thought was that they were so ugly but really cute at the same time. After researching about them, I fell in love even more.

Q: What made you want to start photographing them?

A: With any pet I have, I always take photos of them, usually not to this extent though. I feel like it’s a natural pet owner thing to do.

Q: How have your friends and family reacted to your love for them?

A: My family, coming from Vietnam, had no clue what guinea pigs were, not to mention hairless ones. I’ve tried to explain [to them] that they're not baby pigs, but they just call them “heo” anyways, which translates to pig. When it comes to my friends, there are a lot of mixed reactions, some think they're ugly while others think they're adorable.

Greta on skateboard inspired photo shoot after Le had seen a gallery with a ton of graffiti inspired art so she decided to paint a graffiti backdrop.

Greta on skateboard inspired photo shoot after Le had seen a gallery with a ton of graffiti inspired art so she decided to paint a graffiti backdrop.

Q: How many do you have and what are there names?

A: I currently have three females named Gizmo, Haskins and Greta. They are all named after characters from the movie Gremlins.

As an art major, Le is a huge fan of Bob Ross so she found a mini easel and had to recreate Ross with Haskins, her guinea pig.

As an art major, Le is a huge fan of Bob Ross so she found a mini easel and had to recreate Ross with Haskins, her guinea pig.

Q: Would you say they each have their own personality?

A: They definitely have different personalities. It really shows once you meet them in real life.

Q: How would you describe each of them?

A: On a scale from shy to hyper, two of them are on the extreme side and one is in the middle. Haskins is incredibly shy and freezes up when you hold her, while Greta won’t stay still and doesn’t stop crying for food. Luckily, Gizmo is in between the two extremes.

When Le went to a souvenir store she saw the cutest plastic ladybug and decided it would be Gizmo’s best friend, who is posed here with a straw hat.

When Le went to a souvenir store she saw the cutest plastic ladybug and decided it would be Gizmo’s best friend, who is posed here with a straw hat.

Q: Do you plan on getting more?

A: If I could, I would get many more skinny pigs. Currently, I just don't have the space or money to afford more but a girl can dream.

Q: Have any of your girls gone on an adventure? (I.e. escaped their cage or been on a road trip with you)

A: Believe it or not, some guinea pigs are jumpers and Greta happens to be one. Due to this, I fear the day that she will escape but I'm lucky it hasn't happened yet. I do take them out, but I find that they're the most comfortable in their cages. So that’s where they spend most of their time.

Q: I see that they have their own page on Instagram, how’s that going?

A: Surprisingly well, not as in like I have a thousand followers but as in I passed my expected amount of followers. My page has been slow lately, but I do have regulars that keep me motivated.

Q: Were you surprised by the amount of people who also share a love for hairless guinea pigs?

A: I really was surprised. There’s quite a few hairless guinea pig accounts with tens of thousands of followers.

Q: Would you recommend them for people who may be considering getting more of a low maintenance pet?

A: Many people believe that guinea pigs are a beginner pet but they're the opposite. They require so much attention and love. Plus, this might be too much info but they sure poop a lot. So I wouldn't recommend them for someone who doesn’t have time to clean constantly.

Q: What would you like people out there to know about skinny pigs?

A: Skinny pigs are precious animals that come in all different personalities. They do take a lot of work, but it really pays off at the end.

If you would like to see more of Jessica’s pictures, you can follow her Instagram account @skinnygremlins.