Vietnam Nature News Vietnamese pot-bellied pig on verge of extinction Jan 28, 2007, 14:33 GMT
Hanoi - The Vietnamese pot-bellied pig is on the verge of extinction inVietnam, local news reports said Sunday.
The number of the distinctive squat pigs, with sagging abdomens and wrinkled skin, has fallen to just 30 sows and five males, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
But it's not loss of habitat nor over-hunting that has brought the species to the brink. The pigs have simply fallen victim to imported breeds which grow faster and reproduce more quickly.
"Raising this breed is not profitable so local farmers don't raise it," said Vo Van Su, head of the Rare Animal and Biological Diversity department at the Vietnam Breeding Institute.
The Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, which are kept as house pets in the US and Europe, originally descended from the Mong Cai pig, which was once found all across north Vietnam. The species was domesticated thousands of years ago, and does not live in the wild.
Smaller than other breeds, fans of the exotic swine say it is smarter than a dog and can be house-trained.
The most famous Vietnamese pot-bellied pig was probably Max, the pet belonging to actor George Clooney. When Max died of natural causes in December, Clooney reportedly said his 18-year relationship with the pig was the longest relationship he ever had.
Su said the government runs a breeding program to ensure that the breed will not completely die out.