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Pig in China that survived 2008 Sichuan earthquake dies

Zhou Jianqiang, a pig that survived the Sichuan earthquake in China, died Wednesday night, the animal’s caretaker said. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Zhou Jianqiang, a pig that survived the Sichuan earthquake in China, died Wednesday night, the animal’s caretaker said. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

June 17 (UPI) -- A pig in China that was hailed a "hero" after surviving the deadly 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province has died, prompting public tributes to the animal nicknamed "Strong-Willed Pig."

Zhu Jianqiang, the name given to the pig after it was discovered under heaps of rubble in the aftermath of the quake, died Wednesday night from "old age and exhaustion," the Jianchuan Museum in Dayi county said, the BBC reported Thursday.

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Zhu became a symbol of hope in China after being found living on charcoal and rainwater for 36 days after the disaster, China Daily reported. The museum put the pig on display as a tourist attraction.

On social media site Weibo millions of people allegedly paid tribute to the pig that died at age 14. A hashtag, "Strong-Willed Pig has died," garnered 430 million views on the Chinese social media platform.

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"Thank you for interpreting the greatness of life with your own strength," one commenter wrote.

"RIP you are the miracle of life and the symbol of strength," another wrote.

The 7.9-magnitude quake in Sichuan left close to 90,000 people dead or missing.

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Rescuers said at the time that the pig resembled a goat when they found it in the rubble. The animal may have suffered from "severe trauma" after the quake, authorities said at the time.

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The pig was cloned in 2011 and is the ancestor of six direct descendants with a birthmark between their eyes, according to the BBC.

Tens of thousands of people died during the Sichuan earthquake partly due to shoddy construction. Parents of students who died have blamed poorly built schools for the tragedy.

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The Chinese government has said at least 5,000 students went missing or were killed, but authorities clamped down on post-earthquake activism and no court cases were brought against builders or the local government, according to CNN.

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