The Protest Pig: a rare breed designed to be a living (and breathing) flag

Husum Red Pied, Rotbuntes Husumer in German, is a rare domestic pig breed popularly known as “the Danish Protest Pig” (German: Husumer Protestschwein and Danish: Husum protestsvin or danske protestsvin), because its whole reason for being was to imitate the country flag at a time when its actual flag could not be raised.

Its story can be traced back to the mid 19th century when Denmark and Prussia went to war over control of the southern Jutland Peninsula, which today is part of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.
At that time both countries refused to concede any ground, and they couldn’t decide where the border between their lands was, so they eventually declared war on each other.
In short, in 1848, Denmark won the war and the claim to the contested land, but only a decade later the Second Schleswig War erupted, and this time Prussia emerged victorious.
In the years that followed, Prussian authorities instituted a multitude of brand-new laws and launched a campaign against anything remotely Danish, especially the flag, which didn’t sit too well with farmers in the disputed Jutland territory.
The Danes, especially the farmers, were not very happy, as they lived under the rule of the Prussians, who prohibited all use of their beloved flag. They could not raise it and were forced to bow down to the Prussian authorities.
And thus, they devised a cunning plan to bypass the ban. It wasn’t so difficult, as they decided to use biology as their secret weapon: an ingenious pig crossbreeding program to create a new breed that would resemble their relatively simple flag – a flat red background covered by a long, white Nordic cross.
So, all the pig needed, was a coat of red fur and one or two prominent white belts.
They named it Protestschwein, not by chance, the Danish Protest Pig, and it was made a symbol of their cultural identity.

No one really knows what breeds were used to create the Danish Protest Pig, but many believe that it is a cross between multiple breeds, most likely Holsteinian and Jutlandian marsh pigs, English Tamworth pig, and red variants of the Angeln Saddleback.
Although created as a form of protest against Prussian rule, the unique breed was formally recognized as a true breed in 1954 and named Husum Red Pied but, after a last birth in 1968, it was considered extinct. Only in 1984 were pigs fully corresponding to the original descriptions of the breed seen again, that grows to a height of about 90 cm and weighs up to 350 kg.

However, associations of breeders continue to breed it and to register existing pigs of this breed.
Despite specimens bred are usually missing the white horizontal belt that completes the flag design, they maintain their unique look.
The Danish Protest Pig is currently classified as rare, but the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein supports preservation of the breed for its cultural value.
There are currently between 60 and 140 specimens alive in the world, mainly in German zoos.
Breeding populations exist in the Berlin Zoological Garden, the Hanover Zoo, the Tierpark Arche Warder near Kiel, in the ZOOM Erlebniswelt Gelsenkirchen, in Dalmsdorf (Mecklenburg), Hof Lütjensee, and on the Archehof Blumencron, while the Dortmund Zoo and the Tierpark Krüzen house small populations too.

Interestingly, this wasn’t the only form of protest to occur on the Jutland Peninsula in the 19th century. The occupying Prussians also instituted laws that prevented Danish organizations from serving alcohol, striking a major blow to local community halls that functioned as key political gathering spots.
Thus, these Danish halls needed a non-alcoholic way to bring people in. And what happened?
The sønderjysk kaffebord, or coffee table was born — what is essentially a table covered in dozens of assorted “rebel cakes”.
Today these cake-covered tables are a tradition on the peninsula. And, paired with a slice of crispy bacon, resistance has never tasted so good!

Images from web – Google Research

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