He spends his days lazing around, eating, and being admired by visitors from all over. And yet Khanzir is the loneliest pig in the world.
For the 14-year-old is the only pig in the entire nation of Afghanistan.
Eating pork is considered haram in Afghanistan. Even touching a pig is taboo under certain interpretations. So there is no reason to rear pigs in the country, which also means most Afghans have never even seen a pig in their life.
Khanzir, whose name literally means “pig”, was the first pig in Afghanistan, being gifted to Kabul Zoo by China in 2002. As of now, he is also the last.
But he wasn’t always lonely. In fact, Khanzir’s story reads much like a heart-wrenching Bollywood tragedy. He was gifted to the zoo along with a female pig, with whom he went on to have a litter of piglets. However, in 2006, a brown bear got into the enclosure and attacked the happy family, killing the piglets as well as the female pig. Khanzir, however, was rescued.
For the past eleven years, the pig has lived by himself in his grassy enclosure. Sometimes, he will retire to his concrete shelter for days, keeping to himself. Though he has become old and frail, Khanzir has a thriving relationship with his caretakers, who are his only companions.
“He is very special to us,” Shah Bharat, his caretaker, told the Washington Post, adding, “Like all the animals I care for at the zoo, Khanzir is my friend. I would be very sad if something were to happen to him.”