Newspaper article International New York Times

Diving Pigs: China's Latest Sport Offers a Promise of Tastier Pork

Newspaper article International New York Times

Diving Pigs: China's Latest Sport Offers a Promise of Tastier Pork

Article excerpt

China's rural entrepreneurs have turned pig diving into a tourist draw and a selling point for pork, saying that diving pigs are healthier, leaner and tastier.

Pigs still cannot fly. But in China, they are trying.

With summer here, swine across China -- hefty or small; pink, black or spotted -- are jumping or being shoved off platforms and splashing into pools and ponds where they bob around before gathering their senses and paddling to shore.

A proliferation of images on the Internet and reports in newspapers suggests that creating a leaping, amphibious pig is another realm where China can claim global preeminence. Pictures spread online in recent days show piglets being prodded to dive several yards off a bridge into a lake. Others show spotted pigs enduring a 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 as in many pursuits, China's rural entrepreneurs have shown an inventive do-it-yourself streak, and turned the pursuit into a tourist draw and a selling point for pork. Proponents say that diving pigs are healthier, leaner and tastier, and so sell for better prices.

"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 higher 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. …

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