Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pigs and Atomic Testing: Pig 311

Hot on the heels of Tirpitz, the swimming pig from World War I, comes this tale of the seemingly "indestructible" Pig 311, found swimming in the Pacific in 1946 after the testing of the atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll. This pig survived both the sinking of the Japanese cruiser Sakawa in the test and a large dose of radiation before being sent to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. According to a July 15, 1946 article in the Los Angeles Times, the animals used in the Bikini test were generally "dying like flies," although Pig 311 was only suffering from "a diminishing blood count and other internal signs of damage." These must not have proven fatal, for the Washington Post featured a photo (far left; note Goat 315 on the right) of Pig 311 arriving at the Washington Navy Yard on September 25, 1946.

There are many files about Pig 311 in the archives at the National Zoo, but until I access them, I'm not entirely sure how this story played out. Speaking of plays, though, Dr. Jonathan Neale wrote a play about Pig 311 that apparently was performed in 1986. Some pig, indeed!

Thanks again to "Animals as Cold Warriors" website (here) for turning me on to this tale.

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