China mourns heroic ‘Strong-Willed Pig’ that survived earthquake after it dies of old age

The stalwart pig’s enclosure now sits empty

Shweta Sharma@Ss22Shweta
Thursday 17 June 2021 13:36
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<p>This file photo taken on 25 April, 2018, shows a pig known as "Zhu Jianqiang", who became a national icon after it survived the devastating earthquake 10 years ago, being comforted by worker at a museum in Anren, Sichuan province</p>

This file photo taken on 25 April, 2018, shows a pig known as "Zhu Jianqiang", who became a national icon after it survived the devastating earthquake 10 years ago, being comforted by worker at a museum in Anren, Sichuan province

A pig that became a legend in the world of livestock and was seen as a symbol of resilience after it survived 36 days under rubble from the 2018 Sichuan earthquake, is being mourned by millions of Chinese after it died on Wednesday.

Zhu Jianqiang, whose name means “strong-willed pig” in Chinese, died at the age of 14 due to "old age and exhaustion," the museum said.

The stalwart swine became a household name in China and made international headlines in 2008 after the courageous animal managed to survive 36 days under the debris following the magnitude 8 earthquake in Sichuan province.

The animal came through while 69,000 lives were lost and 18,000 people went missing.

Zhu, however, suffered severe trauma from being trapped and his weight reduce to 220 pounds from 330 pounds while it subsisted on bag of charcoal and rainwater, the rescuers recalled.

The heroic pig enchanted the people in the country so much that he was bought by Jianchuan Museum owner Fan Jianchuan for 3,008 yuan (about £335).

Since then, it attracted tourists and his name was added to brands of dozens of businesses in China.

Aging Zhu Jianqiang picture in its enclosure in January, 2021

In May, the museum announced that Zhu’s life is nearing its end in a farewell post on Weibo.

“What’s really behind the attention is not just a pig, but a collective memory,” they wrote on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

“Since it moved from the debris to the museum in 2008, numerous tourists have visited [Zhu] every day,” Jianchuan Museum said.

“It is a miracle of life; it is a symbol of strong will,” it added.

Zhu, who was ill this year, died a month after marking the 13th anniversary of the devastating earthquake on 12 May.

The pig was 100 years old in human years, according to Global Times. Typically a pig's lifespan is 14-20 years.

Several Weibo users also mourned its passing as the hashtag "Strong-Willed Pig has died" remained one of the top trends in the country.

"Thank you for interpreting the greatness of life with your own strength," one user said.

"We were worried that he could not make it to May 12, but he eventually kept going for another month. He really is a ‘strong-willed pig,’" said another referring to the anniversary of the earthquake.

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