It’s a swill life

China’s “hero” pig makes the news again

It’s a swill life

If the swine flu pandemic is dampening China’s love affair with pork, no one is telling Zhu Jianqiang – the nation’s porcine heroine.

Zhu Jianqiang, meaning strong-willed or persistent pig, earned national affection after surviving for 36 days on charcoal and rainwater in the aftermath of last year’s Sichuan earthquake (see WiC5).

The hardy sow continues to wallow in the public’s warmth, although she has moved accommodation to a purpose-built sty at the Jianchuan Museum in Sichuan –courtesy of a donation from a Chengdu biotech firm.

“A lot of people will come because this pig sent a powerful message to us humans about never giving up in the face of catastrophe,” says museum planning director Wu Zhiwei, who adds, “She’s not just a pig; she’s a hero. And she has a special personality.”

Jianqiang’s popularity shows little sign of subsiding, with the porker topping an online Red Net forum poll of “10 animals that moved China in 2008”. China Children Publishing House will also soon be releasing a children’s book celebrating her incredible tale.

So Jianqiang continues to enjoy a life of luxury. Her residence comprises temperature controls, for instance, as well as an absorbent floor to deal with farmyard odour.

Since she was discovered after the earthquake, Jianqiang has also put on over 100kg weight, according to her dietician. So she now follows a strict regimen, and gets biofermin tablets and fish liver oil to help with her digestion. Plus a workout – Jianqiang’s caretaker walks her three times a day and even gives the occasional massage to counter cellulite.

But there are responsibilities too. Between 9am and 4pm Jianqiang receives visitors at her “office” at the museum. Apparently more than 3,000 turn up daily, from all around the country.

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