Hero piglets
A pig looks out from the debris of a collapsed house in the Ronghua Township May 14, 2008 in the outskirts of Shifang, one of the hard-hit cities of Sichuan Province, China. A major earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, the worst in 58 years, jolted China's Sichuan Province May 12. (Getty Images)
September 19th, 2011
02:00 AM ET

Hero piglets

Editor's Note: The following text is from GlobalPost, which provides excellent coverage of world news – importantmoving and just odd.

Zhu Jianqiang the "Strong-Willed Pig," hailed as a hero after surviving for more than a month trapped in the rubble of the 2008 earthquake, now has six identical piglet clones. Chinese scientists have cloned a pig hailed as a national hero after surviving for 36 days buried beneath rubble after the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan province.

Zhu Jianqiang ("Strong-Willed Pig") reportedly survived in the debris by chewing charcoal and drinking rainwater, and was "as thin as a goat" when he was rescued, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported at the time.

The pig became a symbol for national resilience. More than 90,000 people died or went missing in the devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake, which affected Sichuan and parts of neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.

Now there are six little "strong-willed" piglets, after the hero pig was cloned by researchers at a genetic institute in Shenzhen, southern China, Hong Kong's Sunday Morning Post reports.

The Beijing Genomics Institute last week announced the birth of the six piglets with DNA identical to that of their father, Zhu Jianqiang, the newspaper reports.

Dr. Du Yutao, leader of the cloning project, told the Post that the pig was a poor candidate for cloning: he had been castrated before the quake, had experienced serious trauma by being buried for 36 days, and was five years old — or about 60 in human terms.

"But the wonderful pig surprised us again," Du said.

The piglets reportedly look like their hero father, with a birthmark between their eyes, and displayed "markedly more strength and vigor than other young porkers."

But a Beijing-based biologist told the newspaper that it was unlikely the pig had special genes, and he was just a celebrity animal being used to promote cloning technology, the Post says.

In 2008, Zhu Jianqiang the hero pig topped an online poll of "10 animals that moved China" for his spirit of never giving up, China Daily reports.

But after the hero pig became famous, he was sold on to a museum curator and became notoriously fat and grumpy.

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Topics: Animals • China • Odd • Science

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Looking at this cute piglet, I will never eat Wiener Schnitzel again!

    September 19, 2011 at 4:55 am | Reply

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