A pod of swimming pigs has delighted tourists in the Bahamas for decades, but several of them were recently found dead. Wayde Nixon, who owns some of the pigs, said they appear to have eaten food they aren’t accustomed to. The tragedy has drawn criticism of irresponsible tourists who often feed the animals human food, including alcohol like rum or beer.
About 20 swimming pigs once frolicked in the Exuma Cays, according to the Bahamas’ tourism website. Swimming alongside the animals and photographing them may be harmless, but Nixon said people have also tried to ride on top of the pigs or give them alcohol. He told The Nassau Guardian, “We had them pigs there almost 30 years, and never has this happened before, but now we are going to have to regulate it. Right now it’s blowing out of proportion with people, anybody bringing food there, anybody doing what they [want to] do.”
He blamed their deaths on someone giving them bad food, but Bahamas Humane Society president Kim Aranha said it could have been an accident, and the animals could have consumed something poisonous. She told The Independent, “It could be malicious but I don’t really see why anyone would go out of their way to hurt those lovely animals. I know there are a lot of silly sailors that go and feed them alcohol to try and get them drunk but that’s not to mistake them with the tour operators based out of Nassau who have treated them with excellent care.”
Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources V. Alfred Gray said the government will work to prevent tourists from feeding the pigs, such as through a boundary line so visitors could still see the pigs but wouldn’t be able to feed them. He said his department is working with the Ministry of Tourism to implement a safeguard for the remaining 15 or so pigs.