The famous and universally-loved pigs of the Bahamas are under threat as several of their number have been found dead on the beach after tourists reportedly fed them beer and rum.
Pigs found dead
Throughout the weekend of the 25th Feburary, seven of the famous swimming pigs of 'Big Major Cay' in the Bahamas archipelago were found dead, visibly poisoned.
The majority of the pigs are still alive, but the government to ban visitors for the time being from feeding the porcine creatures while they try to establish the cause of death.
Some officials have said that the cause of the pigs’ death was currently ambiguous.
“It could just be a horrible accident where they ate something poisonous”, said Kim Aranha, president of the Bahamas human Society animal group.
“It could be malicious but I don’t really see why someone 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.”
One of the pig’s owners, Wayde Nixon, told The Nassau Guardian: “The pigs were given the wrong food.
“We had them pigs there almost 30 years, but 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 kinds of stuff.”
“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,” it says.
Ban on feeding
Though the cause of death remains unconfirmed, the government is taking steps to protect the other pigs from any future harm. Alfred Gray, the country’s Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, has said that from now on “people will be able to take photographs and see the pigs swim… but they will not be able to feed them things”.
The Bahamas human Society animal group is aiming to publish the results of the enquiry as soon as possible in order to shed light on the tragic deaths of the pigs. In the mean time, the ban on feeding the pigs is still in place.
Background on the pigs
Wayde Nixon and colleague Don Rolle, have often been called the pigs' owners, having brought them to the island in 1990, initially to create a farm.
The famous pigs swim in the sea, run to greet visitors with treats and lounge around in the shade. Though feral, pigs are wild but friendly, living their lives freely on the island.
According to Bahamas officials, though the deaths are bad for the local economy and for tourism, they still expect people to visit the island to see the pigs.