KABUL, Afghanistan — "Exotic species" are different in Afghanistan. For example, the Kabul Zoo is home to what’s thought to be the nation’s only captive pig, really a massive boar. Pork is haram, or forbidden, in Islam, hence the lack of domestic swine.
A sign outside his enclosure seems to say his name is Sarkozy, like the former French president, but the zoo’s director, Aziz Gul Saqib, insists that the boar has no name.
The boar was a gift from China, and he was a favorite of Karl Eikenberry, a previous U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, who grew up in North Carolina, where the campaign to revive the Kabul Zoo began. Eikenberry visited the Kabul Zoo several times, including the day before he left the country in 2011. During a recent interview, Saqib gleefully showed off a photo of Eikenberry hand-feeding sugar to the pig, and he said the ambassador had visited the pig several times during his tenure here.
The boar’s odd status in Afghanistan was underlined in 2009, when he was briefly taken off exhibit in the middle of a swine flu scare. He posed no threat, but Afghans didn’t really understand the disease and visitors to the zoo worried that they might contract it from him, Saqib said.
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