It's no secret that this is flu season. Apparently, it's "swine flew" season as well. A herd of rare pigs have been flown from Britain to the small Himalayan country of Bhutan by Exel, a global provider of supply chain services. Sponsored by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as part of a pig-breeding program, the program was carried out by Exel on behalf of Harris Associates, a livestock exporter. Harris Associates sourced the 72 saddleback and large black pigs from 20 farms across Great Britain, where there are fewer than 500 surviving sows. Logistics and agriculture teams in England and Thailand worked together to complete the shipment, which was the largest of its kind in the world.
Exel transported the pigs by air from London to Bangkok using specially prepared collapsible pens. The pigs were then reloaded in Thailand for their flight to Bhutan. Limited services at Paro airport in Bhutan meant that Harris Associates had to remove seats from the aircraft and reassemble the pens onboard to ensure the pigs had a comfortable flight to their new high-altitude home.
Bhutan particularly wanted the pigs not just because of their hardiness and ability to survive in the Himalayan climate, but also because of their color. The pigs' black and white coloring is particularly prized by Buddhists, who associate the colors with the awakening of the inner self, which is necessary to achieve paradise.