CLOSE
Original image
iStock

Meet Khanzir, the Only Pig in Afghanistan 

Original image
iStock

Depending on how you look at it, Khanzir is either the world’s loneliest—or luckiest—farm animal. According to The Washington Post, the 14-year-old hog is the only animal of his kind to live in Afghanistan, an Islamic nation that bans the consumption (and in some cases, even touching) of pigs. The solitary swine might be companion-free, but the sheer novelty of his existence means he’s famous in his hog-free nation.

Khanzir (whose name means “Pig” in Pashto, one of Afghanistan’s national languages) wasn’t always Afghanistan’s only pig. In 2002, China gave Khanzir and a female companion to the Kabul Zoo, along with a pair of brown bears. Khanzir became a father, but four years later, tragedy struck: A zoo caretaker left the bears’ cage open, and one of them raided the pig enclosure. The piglets were killed, and the female pig was badly injured, and later died. Khanzir was the only survivor.

Today, Khanzir lives in his own enclosure in the Kabul Zoo. The widowed pig may no longer have a family, but he still receives lots of company: Many Afghans have never seen a pig before in their lives, and travel long distances to see Khanzir. He’s also beloved by his caretakers, and well-fed to boot.

That being said, Khanzir’s celebrity status sometimes attracts unwanted attention. Case in point: During the worldwide swine flu epidemic of 2009, officials placed the famous pig in quarantine after visitors (who knew little about swine flu) feared he would make them sick. Some people even called for Khanzir to be euthanized.

Ultimately, Khanzir had more friends than enemies, and he remained unharmed. Today, he's protected by loyal zoo workers, who tell The Washington Post that Khanzir is "an innocent animal, like all animals"—even though he's haram, or forbidden by Islamic law.

You can learn more about Khanzir (and even watch a video of him) over at The Washington Post. 

[h/t The Washington Post]

Original image
Focus Features
arrow
Animals
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
Original image
Focus Features

If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

Original image
iStock
arrow
technology
This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
Original image
iStock

Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios