Pig Beach Is No Paradise For Its Inhabitants

“Visit Pig Beach and get a selfie with the #swimmingpigs—they’re even cuter in person!” says the official website for this tourist attraction on the Bahamas’ Big Major Cay. Although Pig Beach may sound like a tropical paradise for the feral pigs that are free to wander and take ocean swims with tourists, in reality, it’s a lot more like a nightmare for its inhabitants.

It’s not known for sure how pigs originally ended up on the uninhabited island decades ago – they may have swum there after a shipwreck or were brought there by sailors intending to return and eat them. About 25 pigs and piglets usually live there.

Like many of us, Michelle Cehn of the World of Vegan blog loves pigs (by the way, please don’t compare the current president of the United States to one of these creatures). When she heard about Pig Beach, she couldn’t wait to visit it on her honeymoon last year.

Cehn’s disappointment when she and her husband anchored their small motorboat there was almost immediate. “My excitement quickly faded as I had a sinking feeling that something wasn’t right,” she wrote. “Really, a lot wasn’t right.”

The newlyweds were greeted by what she called “a stampede of big hungry snouts desperate for food.” When the pigs realized she had no food for them, they wandered off, but then about a dozen piglets ran up to the couple.

“After recovering from the glee of fraternizing with little piglets in paradise, I started to notice the abrasions on their skin,” Cehn wrote. “I looked closer and saw that the skin on their snouts was peeling, and they had little scabs and marks on their tiny heads.”

Because their skin is so fair, pigs can easily suffer from sunburn and even skin cancer. For these reasons, the Farm Sanctuary recommends that sunscreen should be applied to all areas of pigs that aren’t covered by mud.

Unfortunately, there are few shaded areas on Pig Beach or the rest of the rocky island, so these pigs spend most of their time every day unshielded from the direct glare of sunlight.

If you’re wondering why there are only about 25 pigs on the beach – especially considering that pigs can give birth to more than 20 piglets every year — the reason is sinister, as Cehn discovered. While a tour guide who comes to the island daily to feed the pigs vegetables and pancakes refused to give Chen a definitive answer about the pig population, a woman who lives on a neighboring island told her the truth.

“Oh, they have to kill the pigs or there would be too many — especially when they get aggressive,” the woman told Cehn, making a throat-slashing gesture. “They can be a danger to the tourists, so they have to go. But don’t worry — they roast them on a skewer and eat them, and nothing goes to waste. And no, we don’t serve them at the restaurant here. A lot of people ask that!”

Pig Beach is far from an idyllic, open space for its inhabitants to roam free, as Cehn discovered. It’s just another wildlife tourist attraction, where the animals are exploited for the profit of tour guides, boat tour companies and resorts.

“Sure, it’s better than a factory farm, but Pig Island is no pig paradise,” Cehn wrote.

SEVEN PIGS DIED THIS YEAR

It’s only gotten worse on Pig Beach since Cehn’s 2016 honeymoon visit. Earlier this year, seven pigs were found dead on the island. At first it was thought that tourists had given them rum, but an inspector from the Bahamas Humane Society told National Geographic the pigs probably died from ingesting sand when they foraged for the small amounts of food tossed on the beach by tourists.

According to a statement the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources made after the deaths, boundary lines may be set up for the pigs’ protection so people can watch them, but not be able to feed, swim or otherwise interact with them.

Even better? Relocate the inhabitants of Pig Beach to a farm sanctuary that would truly be paradise for these porkers.

TAKE ACTION

  • Don’t visit Pig Beach, and let anyone you know who’s considering a visit that it’s no paradise for pigs. Instead, support and visit farm sanctuaries around the world. You can feel good about interacting with the pigs there, knowing they’re treated well.
  • Pig Beach is a popular destination for young celebrities like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner, who just vacationed there. If they must visit, the least they can do is provide sun protection for the pigs. Please sign and share this petition urging them to donate sunblock.
  • Contact government officials and tell them to provide better care for the inhabitants of Pig Beach.

Photo credit: Kai Lehmann

119 comments

Katy M
Katy Mccoll10 hours ago

jeez, sorry for the typos!

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Katy M
Katy Mccoll10 hours ago

Hi Laura
I commented on a post on Instagram with links to your petittion and I am being told by an imdividual that I am mistaken, that the locals all care for the pigs, feed them, make sure there is shade etc. How do I know for sure that these ligs are being harmed and what can I give him as evidence of this? Many thanks!

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Anna R
Anna R2 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Margaret B
Margaret B2 days ago

Just another example of humans being totally out of touch with the needs of other animals. I despair.

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Arlene C
Arlene C2 days ago

Merci Laura

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Chad A
Chad A2 days ago

Awful.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 days ago

Jamie Clemons: Everything you said about pigs applies more than a hundred times to most of the disgusting human species, especially your kind of murdering neanderthal human who are part of a massive horde of 7 billion. Guess what those 7 billion humans are the most invasive and destructive species ever seen, destroying all life on Earth. Sorry but I would defend those pigs against your murdering onslaught and you wouldn't win.

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Kalliope M
Kalliope M3 days ago

The petition is already signed - Thanks for the article.

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Cathy B
Cathy B4 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Arlene C
Arlene C4 days ago

Merci Laura

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