Zhu Jianqiang, which means strong-willed pig in Chinese, takes a walk on May 8, 2009. The pig miraculously survived 36 days under debris after the May 12, 2008 Sichuan quake. Jia Guorong / China News Service
CHENGDU - Wan Xingming, a farmer in Pengzhou city, Sichuan province, was excited on Wednesday not only because he could feast on his favorite rice dumplings on the Dragon Boat Festival.
"I am also happy my wife and I will be able to see our plucky porker Zhu Jianqiang, again. I have seen it only twice since it was sold to the Jianchuan Museum Cluster," the 62-year-old man said.
Zhu Jianqiang, commonly known as the strong-willed pig among the average Chinese, became an overnight sensation after it was discovered to be alive beneath rubble in Wan's pigsty 36 days after the magnitude 8.0 earthquake in Sichuan on May 12, 2008 killed more than 90,000 people.
After it was pulled from the rubble on June 17, 2008 by soldiers in the Chengdu Military Area Command, the pig, whose weight had dropped from 150 kg to a mere 50 kg, shed tears when Wan and his wife, Liu Dahui, fed it food.
"I thought it had human feelings and did not want to slaughter it for the table, but as I was broke after the quake, I had difficulty in keeping it," said Wan, whose house was damaged in the disaster.
Soon afterwards, Fan Jianchuan, curator of the Jianchuan Museum Cluster in Dayi county in Sichuan, purchased the pig for 3,008 yuan ($442) and vowed to keep it in the museum for the rest of its life.
When the pig was taken away, Wan wept. Since his mountainous Tuanshan village in Longmenshan town in Pengzhou is far from Fan's museum and the couple are illiterate, Wan and his wife, 57, have only visited the pig twice - several days after the one-year-old pig was sold to the museum in 2008 and during the Pure Brightness Festival in April 2009. A car sent by a newspaper in Chengdu took the couple to the museum on both occasions.
"Tomorrow (Thursday) a car from the Jianchuan Museum Cluster will take me to the museum for a celebration of the second anniversary of the pig's rebirth from the rubble," Wan said.
The Wans, soldiers who saved the pig and representatives of a feed company in Chengdu, which provides medical care for the pig, will join museum staff to celebrate the pig's rebirth on Thursday afternoon.
"Accompanied by the pig, the group will mount a platform where Wan will relate what the pig was like before the quake, a soldier will explain how he and members of his unit found and saved the pig from the rubble and a representative of the feed company will speak about its health, " Fan said.
"Finally, a cake made of corn will be offered to the pig and all the people present will sing happy birthday to it," said Fan, who also views Thursday's ceremony as a commemoration for those who lost their lives in the quake as well as a time to bless the survivors.
Exemplifying the spirit of never giving up, the pig topped an online poll of "10 animals that inspired China in 2008" after it received unanimous support from voters on the forum Red Net.
According to Wu Zhiwei, an information officer at the Jianchuan Museum Cluster, Zhu Jianqiang has drawn many visitors to the museum, where it lives a comfortable life and has now achieved a weight of more than 200 kg.
(China Daily 06/17/2010 page4)