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Charcoal, rain sustain trapped pig for 36 days after quake
Updated: 2008-06-23 16:47

BEIJING -- A 330-pound hog survived 36 days in the ruins of its sty, destroyed by last month's Sichuan Province earthquake, by chowing down charcoal and drinking rainwater, local media reported.

The no-longer-big-pig in Pengzhou City was down to one-third of its weight, making it almost unrecognizable. "It didn't look like a pig at all when it was saved," a witness said. "It was as thin as a goat!"

The pig ate charcoal, which although contains no nutrition, is also non-toxic and filling. The charcoal had been stored on the second story of its collapsed shelter.

A curator from the Jianchuan Museum bought the pig for 3,008 yuan ($430) and promised to care for it until it died naturally. He named the pig Zhu Jianqiang (Pig Strong), tacked on a nickname: 36-day piggy.

The pig weighed only 40 pounds last June when its owners, the couple of Wan Xinming and Liu Dahui, bought it from a market. By the end of April, it had packed on the pork and grown to a 300-pound hog.

The May 12 earthquake destroyed its sty. Although Wan wanted to get the pig out the next day, he was told to evacuate to safety immediately.

The pig's rescue initially met with disbelief. "It is unbelievable that the pig was still alive after 36 days," a local vet said. "No matter how fat a pig is, it cannot live for five days without food and water."

But it seems that the collapsed sty hemmed the animal into a tiny slot, restricting its movements and thus reducing its need for food. The heavy rain that followed the quake was another decisive factor in the isolated pig's survival.

And its pre-quake bulk was an internal reserve of energy that the pig drew on during its ordeal. "The pig performed a miracle in the disaster," a local newspaper said. "Its strong will to live kept it alive."