Depending on how you look at it, Khanzir is either the world’s loneliest—or luckiest—farm animal. According to The Washington Post, the 14-year-old hog is the only animal of his kind to live in Afghanistan, an Islamic nation that bans the consumption (and in some cases, even touching) of pigs. The solitary swine might be companion-free, but the sheer novelty of his existence means he’s famous in his hog-free nation.
Khanzir (whose name means “Pig” in Pashto, one of Afghanistan’s national languages) wasn’t always Afghanistan’s only pig. In 2002, China gave Khanzir and a female companion to the Kabul Zoo, along with a pair of brown bears. Khanzir became a father, but four years later, tragedy struck: A zoo caretaker left the bears’ cage open, and one of them raided the pig enclosure. The piglets were killed, and the female pig was badly injured, and later died. Khanzir was the only survivor.
Today, Khanzir lives in his own enclosure in the Kabul Zoo. The widowed pig may no longer have a family, but he still receives lots of company: Many Afghans have never seen a pig before in their lives, and travel long distances to see Khanzir. He’s also beloved by his caretakers, and well-fed to boot.
That being said, Khanzir’s celebrity status sometimes attracts unwanted attention. Case in point: During the worldwide swine flu epidemic of 2009, officials placed the famous pig in quarantine after visitors (who knew little about swine flu) feared he would make them sick. Some people even called for Khanzir to be euthanized.
Ultimately, Khanzir had more friends than enemies, and he remained unharmed. Today, he's protected by loyal zoo workers, who tell The Washington Post that Khanzir is "an innocent animal, like all animals"—even though he's haram, or forbidden by Islamic law.
You can learn more about Khanzir (and even watch a video of him) over at The Washington Post.
[h/t The Washington Post]