Some of the Caribbean’s most famous swimming pigs have recently died after tourists fed them alcohol. Images of the pigs paddling in the tropical waters have made Big Major Cay, also known as Pig Beach, famous, and has consequently caused many people to travel to the destination in The Bahamas to swim with them. However, around seven of the animals have been reportedly found dead, and the man who started the colony claims that the tourists are to blame for the deaths.
Wayde Nixon, who claims to have created the colony 30 years ago, told the Nassau Guardian that the pigs have grown into an attraction that is too big, which has meant that tourism is getting out of control. He said, “Right now it’s blowing out of proportion, with people, anybody bringing food there, anybody doing what they [want to] do. We have people coming there giving the pigs beer, rum, riding on top of them, all kind of stuff. That never happened, but lately [it has] because it’s so big, and we are never really there all the time.”
Current reports claim that there are now only around 15 pigs left alive. Kim Aranha, the society president of the Bahamas Humane Society, an animal charity, told Tribune 242, “It could just be a horrible accident where they ate something poisonous.” Investigations are currently underway to determine the cause of the unexpected death, and Aranha added, “It could be malicious, but I don’t really see why someone would go out of their way to hurt those lovely animals.” The pigs had previously been visited by public figures such as actress Amy Schumer and Donald Trump Jr and his family, who have all posed for photos with the pigs in the past.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism website suggests that the feeding of pigs by tourists is in no way prohibited, stating, “Visitors to the islands are happily embracing the unique and special experience of swimming with the pigs on the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay. The family of pigs, dubbed ‘adorable’ by tourists, locals and media alike, have become incredibly popular. They live freely on the sandy beaches, and after basking in the sun for hours, they swim in the surf. The pigs, though feral, are exceptionally friendly, running from under the shade of the almond trees to greet visitors that bring them treats. They are also fed by the crews of passing yachts and vessels.” The website also further suggests that the pigs enjoy joining in with marine activities with tourists, such as snorkelling and scuba diving.
It is hoped that the current investigation will determine the cause of the deaths, which will hopefully prompt a change in tourist regulations at Big Major Cay. This incident further highlights irresponsible tourism with regards to wildlife, and shows that stricter policies are crucial to the survival of nature.