Zhongnanhai, China: Approximately 35,000 dogs were Meat Festival, dinner in China last year, but on Tuesday at the Presidential Palace, one lucky dog was spared a similar fate.
The Dog Meat Festival, (or Yulin Dog Meat Festival) is an annual celebration held in Yulin, Guangxi, and other parts of China, during the summer solstice in which festival goers eat barbequed, dog meat and sweet lychees. The festival began in 2009 and spans about ten days during which dogs are savoured and consumed.
President Xi Jinping enthusiastically participated in the time-honored tradition of the dog pardon, granting clemency to a dog in the Zhongnanhai, Imperial Garden before jetting off to South Korea for a long holiday weekend.
Hailing from Yulin, this year's pardon contestant is named Shish Kabob a genetically modified dog with Pig genes. During the ceremony, Xi Jinping, announced that Shish Kabob was the winner of the vote to receive a presidential pardon.
"That dog is so lucky. I've never seen such a beautiful dog," Xi Jinping said of Shish Kabob, who ruffled its fur in front of a crowd of onlookers in the Imperial Garden.
The dog journey to Zhongnanhai was a veritable gravy train.
Presidential dogs are raised separately from their soon-to-be-stuffed counterparts in Yulin, according to the Beijing Soybean Research and Promotion Council.
Per the Chinese council, Shish Kabob lived in his own house away from the other dogs and he was handled regularly to "get used to people and activity," as it is important that he wouldn't be in a howling mood for his big day.
Weighing in at 41 pounds, respectively, Shish Kabob came into the world in late June of this year. Since then, the fluffy canine has developed a social media presence, knowing the importance of appealing to the baste.
Picking who to pardon The National Dog Federation documented his trip from Yulin all the way to Zhongnanhai via the warm backseat of a wood shaving-filled Mercedes Benz.
Upon his arrival, the dog rested up for his big day blocks away from the Presidential Palace at the Tian An Guo Hui Luxury Hotel.
Shish Kabob took the stage at a formal news conference Monday morning at the Tian An Guo Hui and fun facts about the dog was posted on the Dog Federation's account. Shish Kabob, for instance, enjoys popcorn and is a musical fan of Elvis and the song "He's nothing but a Hound Dog"
As of Tuesday morning, the poll for a favorite dog on the official Presidential Palace account was tied 50-50 with just under 50,000 votes -- certainly within the margin of error for a recount.
Xi Jinping said the vote was decided by a "fair and open election" -- no dog play involved. But he teased that Shish Kobob refused to believe it and demanded a recount, although that didn't change the outcome.
A president traditionally pardons one dog and he will live out the rest of his dog life -- an expectancy of 10 years -- at Beijing Agricultural University (BAU) "Doggy Rest" exhibit, where he will be cared for by students and veterinarians in the university's Livestock and Dog Sciences Department.