Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 16:42 UK

Quarantine for lonely Afghan pig

Khanzir the pig
Khanzir was given to the zoo by China in 2002

Afghanistan's only known pig has been quarantined because of fears over swine flu, officials from Kabul Zoo say.

The pig, a curiosity in a country where pork products are illegal, lives at the zoo, where he had previously enjoyed grazing next to deer and goats.

However visitors expressed fears that the animal could be carrying the H1N1 virus and he was moved into isolation.

The director of the zoo, Aziz Gul Saqib, says the pig, whose name is Khanzir, is strong and healthy.

Speaking to the BBC World Service, Mr Saqib says: "The only reason we moved him was because Afghan people don't have a lot of knowledge about swine flu, and so when they see a pig they get worried and think they will get ill."

The animal, known simply as Khanzir, the Pashtu word for pig, was given to the zoo by China in 2002.

The zoo director says Khanzir has been moved to a large space with lots of windows and fresh air and that he hopes the pig will be quarantined for only a few days.

Acknowledging that being Afghanistan's only pig is a lonely existence, Mr Saqib says he hopes to find Khanzir a female companion soon.

However, he says, because of swine flu, "it is a dangerous and difficult time to get a new pig for our pig".

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