Many people in Hong Kong laughed when they discovered the government was using stuffed toy pigs in training drills to teach officials how to kill the animals if an outbreak of African swine fever hits the city.

Chan Siu-chee, the Secretary for the Food and Health Bureau, posted photos on Facebook showing her inspection of the facility in Ta Kwu Ling in the New Territories on December 4, thestandnews.com reported.

It adding that the government had vowed to take quick action if any African swine fever cases were reported in the city to decrease its impact.

However, Hong Kong people went online when they saw photos of officers from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) using the stuffed pig toys during the drill.

Social media commentators asked if they could get one of the toy pigs after the officers “killed” them or adopt one when the exercise was finished. Some begged the officers not to “kill” the pigs as they were very cute.

An AFCD spokesperson said the department bought 28 stuffed adult-size toy pigs and two small ones. The cost was HK$700 (US$89) for the big porkers and HK$80 for the piglets. All up, they spent HK$19,760 on the stuffed toys.

The spokesperson added that the department was planning to reuse the props, which will be kept in a warehouse, but not fed.

However, reporters found the same stuffed toy available for sale on Taobao.com at only 248 Chinese yuan (US$35), news website HK01.com reported.