The Elegance and Symmetry of Diving Pigs   Leave a comment


Swine across China are jumping or being shoved off platforms and splashing into pools and ponds, where they bob around before paddling to shore.

Images on the Internet and reports in newspapers suggest that creating a leaping, amphibious pig is another realm where China, which raises more than half the world’s pigs, can claim global pre-eminence. Online photos show piglets prodded to dive off a bridge into a lake. Others show a spotted-pig triathlon of diving, swimming and hurdling.

Aquatic swine are not exclusive to China. Australia has a family with diving pigs, and in the Bahamas you can frolic in the surf with them. But China’s rural entrepreneurs have turned the pursuit into a tourist draw and a selling point for pork. Proponents say that diving pigs are healthier, leaner and tastier.

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“We wanted to make the pigs grow healthier, because usually they’re too lazy,” said Zou Wei, a manager in the planning department of Tuhe Black Pork, a company in Shandong Province that puts some of its hogs through a routine of diving and swimming. “To start with, the pigs don’t like it, but you force one onto the diving platform and it slides down, the others see that and follow.”

The Piggy Kingdom Family Amusement Park in Zhejiang Province has taken the amusement factor to new heights. Pictures and video from the park show pigs being heaved off a platform and thrashing in the air until smacking into water 39 feet below. That’s about six feet more than the tallest Olympic diving platform.

“The Piggy Amusement Park is a bit smelly,” one visitor said, according to a report on the local government’s website. “But the piglets were cute diving into the water and the kids loved it.”

A farmers crazy idea to give his pigs something to do to alleviate boredom by teaching them to dive has now become one of the latest fads in China. Chinese pig farmer Huang Demin of Ningxiang county in Hunan province discovered the giving the pigs a fun reason to exercise make them better and happier, and taste an awful lot better. It is long been recognised that pigs unlike other domesticated animals like cattle or sheep are extremely intelligent and in Europe for example it is now the law that they even need to be given toys to play with so they keep from getting bored. The idea of giving them a diving board was the Chinese equivalent, and farmer Huang argued that the pigs were not only happier but also healthier – less often coming down with disease. But now his idea for improving the lives of his pigs has become a major tourist attraction at several places around China such as this recreational park in Donglu Town in Wenchang City in southern China's special pig diving board has been created. The larger pigs are expected to make a bigger splash and also to dive from heights of up to 5 metres, while the smaller pigs that are getting used to diving can jump from lower heights such as a 3 metre or 1 metre board. And visitors can't seem to get enough of the daily spectacle on the purpose-built pig diving boards. One, Hui Lin, 38, said: "It’s just too funny for words, I never heard of such a thing as pig diving, so we decide we had to come to have a look for ourselves." Although few of the pigs seem to enjoy diving at the start, and often need to be forced into the water, the trainers say that after a few attempts they soon get used to it and eventually can't get enough of the sport. As for the pig Farmer Huang, he says that he can sell the meat from his high diving happy pigs for three times the price of a normal pig.

This dark-haired porker has the technique down pat.

As with human athletes, it’s a matter of mind-set, said Yang Shiliu, a former researcher in the Hunan Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Institute, who is considered one of the foremost experts on pig diving.

“The occasional divers will be hesitant,” Mr. Yang said in a telephone interview from Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in southern China. “Once they’re used to it, they don’t mind.”

Besides, he said, pigs are more adept at swimming than other athletic activities. The Salon pig-breeding company in Hunan considered making pigs jog for exercise, he said, but found that their trotters were too dainty for their bulky bodies. Moreover, he said, “aquatic exercise is a bit more intense.”

Some people have been appalled by the spectacle of pigs being pushed into ponds. “Making pigs dive into water is abusing them,” one person said. “Our citizens have no heart.”

Animal rights advocates, however, have been restrained in their criticism. Jeff Zhou, a China representative for Compassion in World Farming, which campaigns against animal abuse, said pigs in China’s factory farms suffer worse fates than diving, including castration without anesthesia and immobilization in sow stalls and farrowing crates.

But platform diving was not necessarily a pig’s idea of fun, he added.

“It can bring a certain kind of stress to them at the very beginning,” he said. He said farmers should base exercise regimes “on the needs of animals, not the amusement of humans.”

Pig-diving proponents insist that they are doing both.

Pic shows: Pigs jump off a platform into the lake and swim towards the finish line. Tourism officials have rejected criticism of a bizarre stunt that involved forcing piglets to jump into the water from a huge platform as being cruel. The bizarre event was organised to entertain visitors at one of China's most popular scenic spots and was instantly a sell-out success. In the performances slated to take place every hour tourists crowded alongside a platform alongside the shores of Shiyan Lake to see the piglets jumping into the water. The lake is a popular holiday spot in Changsha, capital of central Chinaís Hunan Province, and see 10 pigs jump off a platform into the lake and swim towards the finish line. But after the images were posted online tourism chiefs resort the flow of complaints that the event was cruel. Organiser Shi Huang said: "The piglets are carefully trained to perform this special stunt and they get well rewarded with food and once they get over their nerves they clearly enjoyed it. Anybody who says it is cruel is clearly not well informed that pics like water." But online commentators highlighted the fact that in some of the photos staff from the tourism destination could be seen using a board to force the piglets into the water. And many others made comments like Lok Chiang who said: "This was clearly animal abuse. It may well be the case that pics like water, but not jumping into it from the top of a huge platform. That just isn't natural for any pig is no way you can claim they enjoy it." Once the pigs were in the water, they were then forced to swim for their lives because of bamboo barrier had been set up stopping them getting to the shore, and forcing them to race against each other to reach safe ground. Although it was set up as a May Day attraction, tourism officials say they want to make it a regular weekend event and are considering ways to expand the project. (ends)

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Judges give this red-haired piglet tens all-around!

Posted January 16, 2016 by markosun in Uncategorized

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