What’s pink and fluffy? The toy pigs enlisted to help with a Hong Kong government’s training initiative designed to offset the spread of African swine flu.

An epidemic of Asfarviridae – commonly known as African swine fever – has swept through provinces in Mainland China. Hong Kong’s Food and Health Bureau are closely monitoring the situation.

pig stuff animal exercise
Photo: Facebook/Sophia Chan.

Reporting for duty on Tuesday was Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan, and fellow colleagues at the  Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department’s Ta Kwu Ling Operation Centre.

She reported the session in a Facebook post, describing how they were practicing methods the department might use to prevent the epidemic from reaching Hong Kong.

Also on call was a fleet of pink, fluffy toy pigs for the team to cull as a practice exercise.

Facebook users have responded to the images with a range of emotions.

“How can they be so cute?” one Facebook user said in a comment. “Can we adopt them?” said another.

While some users complained that it was a waste of money to practice with toy animals, one user said that it was better the department had used toy pigs as opposed to living ones.

pig stuff animal exercise
Photo: Facebook/Sophia Chan.

“Wouldn’t it be more controversial to use real pigs?” said netizen David Li. “The toy pigs can be re-used in future exercises.”

“Toy chickens have been used in exercises for avian flu for a long time. How is this a waste of public funds…?


Posted by 陳肇始 Sophia Chan on Tuesday, 4 December 2018

In the Facebook post, Sophia Chan also said that the government has been improving the standard of hygiene at import locations, transportations and slaughterhouses. Local farms have also gradually stopped feeding animals food made from other animals, she said.

“However, if Hong Kong sees an African swine fever epidemic, the government will take decisive action to try to minimise its effect on the local pig industry,” she said.

“We will continue to closely monitor the latest development of the epidemic, in order to make fast and effective responses.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.