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The Saddest Swine of Them All.
May 8, 2009 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Khanzir is the only pig in Afghanistan. An already lonely existence has been made sadder as fears of swine-flu have caused zoo officials to place him in quarantine, depriving him of contact with his best friend - a nearby goat.
posted by grapefruitmoon (40 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
You could look on the bright side. There's no pig on earth less likely to be eaten.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:58 PM on May 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


How exactly do they expect this pig to get swine flu?
posted by one_bean at 6:04 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


From the only Jew in Afghanistan.
posted by gman at 6:05 PM on May 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


SOME PIG
posted by boo_radley at 6:06 PM on May 8, 2009 [6 favorites]


SAVE KHANZIR!
posted by scody at 6:09 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, some days you realise just how distant some cultures are from one another. Today, I learnt that a pig is a zoological curiosity in Afghanistan, an animal just last night I had the culinary enjoyment of. Now I have to ask, do Indians wonder at us for our marvelling over elephants? or are Africans bewildered by our obsession with other apes?

I need to know, before I eat another bacon butty, just how I ought approach our image of the pig.
posted by Sova at 6:33 PM on May 8, 2009


an animal just last night I had the culinary enjoyment of

Does eating a strip of crisped meat and fat that you found wrapped in colored plastic in a refrigerated grocery bin make you in any real sense familar with what a pig is? Hell, you don't know anything more about a soy plant after eating a Clif bar than before you ate one.

or are Africans bewildered by our obsession with other apes?

I don't know anyone offhand who's obsessed with apes, but it's a safe bet that most Africans go their entire lives without ever seeing one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:49 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Steal it! Steal it!
posted by Artw at 7:09 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the only Jew in Afghanistan.

I remember the Daily Show running an segment about those two (now only one, I guess) Jews in Afghanistan. Jon Stewart seemed bemused that the last two Jews in the whole country would hate each other's guts.
posted by Avenger at 7:11 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yay Afghanistan for not being all crazy to kill pigs Egypt style.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:11 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does eating a strip of crisped meat and fat that you found wrapped in colored plastic in a refrigerated grocery bin make you in any real sense familar with what a pig is? Hell, you don't know anything more about a soy plant after eating a Clif bar than before you ate one.

Um, what? I mostly buy my meat at the local market, and if I want to see what a 'real pig' looks like, I just have to turn up on a Thursday afternoon when they get whole sides delivered. Indeed, I grew up going to nothing but real butchers who had several animals hung in their locker at the back. I could always peer in when they opened it, or watch the trucks dropping them off with maybe a dozen complete animals hanging inside. I knew from the go exactly how bits of animal related to the whole, seeing them cut off carcasses on request, yes, even bacon I remember the butcher carrying over his shoulder from the locker. A head was always displayed in the cabinet even, and a box down one side held the trotters. And the smell of blood in butchers'? Quite something, just like the chop of the heavy cleaver severing bones after they've first used a sharp knife the cut through the flesh. You should watch butchers work, cutting, deboning, and so on, it's a real skill.

Of course, if I wanted to know what a living pig looked like when I was young, I could walk out my door and after ten minutes walk be stood in front of a field full of pigs (or cows, or sheep). I could watch them lie in the mud and generally just wait around til they were grown enough to be slaughtered. I've not been under any illusion about where my food comes from, or the process from field to plate. There's no pretense that bacon magically appears in the supermarket for my enjoyment, and that plastic-packaged meat has never fooled me into thinking otherwise, you? Is it moral or intellectual superiority you're seeking to assert through your statement? Because at the moment, I'm feeling neither. But then, I'm not the mindless modern consumer you want me to be. My money kills animals so I can eat them, and I'm happy with that. Real animals really dying, it's okay. Blood, guts, shaking limbs as they carousel through the slaughterhouse, to be met by huge industrial size saws. I'm paying somebody to do that job for me because it's hard, cruddy work, not because I need it dissembling.
posted by Sova at 7:39 PM on May 8, 2009 [27 favorites]


do Indians wonder at us for our marvelling over elephants?

Yeah, a little bit. I mean elephants are inherently pretty cool, but they were fairly commonplace growing up in South India. You saw them at temples all the time, though an elephant walking down the road would still bring all the kids out of their houses.
posted by peacheater at 7:40 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


at least the goat might have a longer lifespan than charlotte the spider? here's hoping they're reunited soon.
posted by questionsandanchors at 7:41 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


OK, I suppose I will be slain for this, but is it really a safe bet that most Africans go their entire lives without seeing an ape? I am surprised to see that asserted. I suppose the Africans who are reading this are probably not a representative sample but I would be curious to hear the opinion of anyone who might have knowledge.

I am certain few see gorillas or orangutans, but I wonder about the preponderance of chimps. Also, it got me curious about how many zoos there are in Africa so I found this link. As you might guess, S. Africa has several and many countries have none.

I think more people are suffering from Wine Flu (hangover) than Swine Flu
posted by jcworth at 7:43 PM on May 8, 2009




hope link works this time
posted by jcworth at 7:44 PM on May 8, 2009


But, perhaps because Afghanistan’s zookeepers were inexperienced, A.F.P. explains, “the other pig — and their offspring — were killed in an attack by a bear.”


ahahahhahahahhahahahahahhaha!
posted by atomicmedia at 7:49 PM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am certain few see gorillas or orangutans, but I wonder about the preponderance of chimps.

That's a safe bet that few see orangutans, especially since orangutans are native to Southeast Asia and have nothing to do with Africa.
posted by ooga_booga at 7:59 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Khanzir, get your room right on time
I know they're afraid of your swine flu
Heeyyy...you're Afghanistan's swine, swine, swine now
Do-n-doo-do, do-n-doo-do
You're the swine for me
The only living pig in Kabul
The onlu living pig in Kabul

posted by total warfare frown at 8:23 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I should think that if a white boy in Canada can get around to seeing an ape once in his life, most Africans probably do the same.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on May 8, 2009


Though come to think of it, I grew up in a logging town. Half my classmates were lower primates. It wouldn't surprise me if their useless drunk-ass fathers were apes.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:28 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Humans are funny creatures.
posted by photoslob at 9:10 PM on May 8, 2009


I am certain few see gorillas or orangutans, but I wonder about the preponderance of chimps.

What ooga_booga said about orangutans, but yeah, I took "apes" in its more common sense of great apes, which are only found in a narrow range of habitat mostly in central and eastern Africa, and not, for the usual depressing reasons, in places where large numbers of humans will encounter them. The term "ape" in its more precise sense apparently includes a lot of primates, and they're found pretty widely in Africa.

Of course, if I wanted to know what a living pig looked like when I was young, I could walk out my door and after ten minutes walk be stood in front of a field full of pigs [...]

Okay, cool. But I was speaking to what seemed to be your representation of a culture to whom a pig would be familiar, not to your personal experience which of course I wouldn't know. Most of us will never see pigs the way they're raised now: the great majority of them racked half-blind in huge reeking sheds where they live -- if you can call it that -- on top of steel grates until they're ready to slaughter. I don't think most of us in the west are any more familiar with pigs qua pigs than the average Afghan is. And Khanzir, by comparison with the ones that land on our tables, has it made.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:18 PM on May 8, 2009


Readers will be glad to hear that Mr. Saqib did tell the BBC that he hoped to find Khanzir a female companion soon, even though “it is a dangerous and difficult time to get a new pig for our pig.”

ARE YOU A BAD ENOUGH DUDE TO SMUGGLE A PIG INTO KABUL?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:21 PM on May 8, 2009 [15 favorites]


Afghanistan: 32 million people, 8 million metric tons of opium, 1 pig.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:07 PM on May 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jon Stewart seemed bemused that the last two Jews in the whole country would hate each other's guts.

Two Jews, three opinions.
posted by dhartung at 10:55 PM on May 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's hard out there for a pig.
posted by emelenjr at 11:44 PM on May 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


What I find truly amusing is that Khanzir was an official gift from China. I guess that somebody in Beijing's Ministry of Foreign Affairs missed the cultural sensitivity classes.

"We were out of pandas!"
posted by Skeptic at 1:41 AM on May 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


but it's a safe bet that most Africans go their entire lives without ever seeing one.

Given homo sapiens is a great ape, I think most Africans see at least as many as I do.
posted by rodgerd at 2:14 AM on May 9, 2009


You don't even need two:
So a Jew gets shipwrecked on a tropical island and over the next ten years makes himself comfortable living. Suddenly a cargo ship appears and our Jew is overjoyed to be rescued and going home. He's giving the ship's captain a tour of his island showing him all the structures he build with all the free time he had. He's built a large house with all the conveniences, and a few feet away he built a little shul (synagogue/temple) to pray in. He explains to the captain that it was the shul that gave him the faith he needed to know he'd be rescued one day.

As they're walking back to the ship the captain notices another shul built further down the beach. "What's that shul?" he asks?

"That shul?", says the Jew, "That's the shul I don't go to anymore."
posted by PenDevil at 5:18 AM on May 9, 2009 [6 favorites]


Okay, cool. But I was speaking to what seemed to be your representation of a culture to whom a pig would be familiar, not to your personal experience which of course I wouldn't know. Most of us will never see pigs the way they're raised now: the great majority of them racked half-blind in huge reeking sheds where they live -- if you can call it that -- on top of steel grates until they're ready to slaughter. I don't think most of us in the west are any more familiar with pigs qua pigs than the average Afghan is. And Khanzir, by comparison with the ones that land on our tables, has it made.

That has happened here too. The fields used to be full of these little arched steel pig huts surround by a litter of straw and mud. I don't know how many would live in each hut, but they had the whole field to roam and a pretty spacious and relaxed life (as far as it goes, of course). Many of these are gone, crowded out by the cheaper pork coming from the huge sheds you mention based in the Netherlands. The conditions there are much worse, but I do know about them as a consumer. I would support a Europe wide increase in pig welfare, but I think they've been trying for many years and it's politically infeasible. A more recent idea is to convince individual farmers of the benefits of better standards, and it might work in the long run.
posted by Sova at 6:02 AM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


At first I felt very sorry for this pig and his goat-deprivation, and teared up the way I do at Iams commercials. Then I clicked on the third link and remembered that pigs aren't very cute.
posted by munyeca at 7:39 AM on May 9, 2009


Now I have to ask, do Indians wonder at us for our marvelling over elephants?

Elephants are big, weigh a ton and can easily trample you. It is natural to marvel at something more powerful than you.

Keeping water-buffaloes in zoos, OTOH, now that's just nuts.

</Indian>
posted by the cydonian at 10:51 AM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Elephants are big, weigh a ton and can easily trample you. It is natural to marvel at something more powerful than you.

I don't know, I've seen some pretty big pigs.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:58 PM on May 9, 2009


Poor Khanzir.
posted by homunculus at 3:23 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Poor fellow. I hope they get him a girl friend pronto. Even a buddy would do, like the goat. Geeze.
posted by chance at 5:23 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


That poor piggy. I would give him a buttermilk bath and tell him he was SOME PIG.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:39 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hope the poor guy isn't too boared.
posted by orme at 7:52 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the goat misses Khanzir. Perhaps he calls out to him: KHAAAAANzir!
posted by homunculus at 11:10 PM on May 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Stupid all round. It's not "swine" flu anyhow. It's NAFTA flu.
posted by Goofyy at 7:51 AM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]




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