A (Very) Brief Recent History of Dead Pigs in Chinese Rivers

More

Today's discovery of 3,000 dead pigs in Shanghai is shocking- but it isn't the first time this has happened in China.

deadpigsguangdong.jpgPig carcasses seen in Guangdong Province, China, in 2007 (Joe Tan/Reuters)

It isn't surprising that a story involving several thousand dead pigs surfacing in a Shanghai river attracted a lot of alarm, not least from the locals who depend on the river for their drinking water. But lost in the shuffle is that this isn't the first time such a "dead pig epidemic" has happened in China. In fact, these cases appear to be happening more frequently than before.

In 2009, the Epoch Times reported that hundreds of dead pigs were found floating in a river near Fuqing, China, consisting mostly of "piglets wrapped in sacks". The next year, in nearby Guangdong Province, 72 dead pigs reportedly contaminated a river near Foshan.

So why does this keep happening? Here's what comes to mind: as pork is a major staple in Chinese diets, there are just a lot of pigs in China. These pigs, being farm animals, are susceptible to illness, and when they die Chinese farmers have a tendency to throw them in a nearby river rather than dispose of them properly. In China, where concern about littering and hazardous waste is a relatively new phenomenon, this practice remains depressingly common.

But the bigger scandal might not be the dead pigs but rather the government's slowness in reacting to them. As Bloomberg's Adam Minter notes, officials have had plenty of time to warn the public of the health scare, but many people still feel like they've been left in the dark. This, more than the sight of the poor pigs themselves, is the true source of outrage in China.

Jump to comments

Matt Schiavenza is a former associate editor at The Atlantic

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in China

Just In