Heroic Pig Who Survived 2008 Sichuan Earthquake Dies Aged 14; What makes this animal special?

A pig that rose to prominence in China after spending 36 days under the rubble in a severe earthquake in 2008 has died.

According to the museum of the Chinese region of Sichuan where the animal resided, Zhu Jianqiang, or “pig with a strong will”, died Wednesday evening of “old age and exhaustion”.

He was seen as a symbol of optimism and resilience at the time of his rescue.

(Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images)
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Millions of people have paid tribute to the pig’s long life on Chinese social media site Weibo.

Zhu Jianqiang died at the age of 14, according to the Sichuan Museum in Jianchuan.

What happened in Sichuan in 2008?

A resident of Tuanshan Village in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, owned the female pig. After the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in May 2008, Zhu Jiangqiang was trapped under a full load of charcoal and rainwater and survived for 36 days. Apple Daily says the pig’s weight dropped from 150 kg (330.7 lbs) to 50 kg (110.2 lbs).

According to rescuers, by the time it was released, the pig was so thin it looked like a goat. It is claimed that he was severely traumatized as a result of being trapped.

It was purchased by a museum in Chengdu for 3,008 yuan ($ 450) and touted as a tourist attraction. The museum warned earlier this year that the animal would not be around for very long.

Scientists have made a Zhu Jianqiang clone

Scientists cloned the pig in 2011, producing six piglets that looked identical to their father, except for a spot between their eyes.

Although Zhu was neutered and aged five (60 human years) at the time, the cloning attempt was successful.

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“The wonderful pig surprised us again,” Du Yutao, head of the cloning project, told the Sunday Morning Post (via BBC).

South China Morning Post said the project spent a hefty price of 10,000 yuan (about $ 1552) for each piglet due to their father’s “heroic” genes. Doctors at a Shenzhen biotech company deliberately altered their genes so that they weren’t similar.

What made the pig special

The Sichuan Jianchuan Museum said that many tourists have visited Zhu every day.

What lies behind the attention is not just a pig, but a collective memory, the museum explained on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

“It’s a miracle of life; it’s a symbol of strong will,” the museum said (via The New York Post).

The rescue gripped the nation to the point where Jianchuan Museum owner Fan Jianchuan bought the pig so that Zhu could be called back every day.

Fan bought the pig to prevent it from being slaughtered. The owner of the museum never expected Zhu to live any longer. However, the health of the pig deteriorated over time.

China mourns the death of a pig

People have flocked to social media after hearing about the pig’s death to express their condolences. The hashtag “Strong-Willed Pig is dead” has received at least 430 million views on Weibo.

“Thank you for interpreting the greatness of life with your own strength,” one user said by BBC.

“RIP, you are the miracle of life and the symbol of strength,” wrote another.

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