An island in the Bahamas has been completely taken over by feral pigs — and it has been one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, particularly for Instagram-obsessed Millennials.
Known as Pig Beach, or by its official name “Big Major Cay”, this uninhabited island in the Exuma Cays of the Bahamas has become known for the resident population of swimming pigs. Visitors can swim and take selfies with the hungry hogs who instinctively rush up to approaching boats in search of food.
The pigs aren’t native to the island and how they got there is a mystery, but a few stories have been passed down by locals…
Some suggest that the pigs were dropped off on the island by a group of sailors that were planning on returning to cook and eat them, but never came back.
Others propose that the pigs were planted on the island as a scheme to draw tourists to the Exumas. Or that the pigs survived a shipwreck and swam to shore.
But according to CNN, the real story is that they were purposely moved to the island by locals who wanted to keep their smelly and messy livestock out of sight, but still accessible.
“Up until as recently as the 1990s, locals would use Big Major as a farm, harvesting animals and slaughtering them as needs arose,” CNN’s Matt Villano writes. “In recent years, however, the subsistence aspect has disappeared, though no laws formally protect the pigs from harm.”
There were initially about 20 pigs and piglets on the island, though tragedy struck in 2017 when 10 of them died unexpectedly. Initially, it was rumored that they died because tourists fed them alcohol, but officials believe the deaths were caused a combination of lack of fresh water and sand indigestion (perhaps from eating food off the beach). Local volunteers have installed a water tank and now ensure that the pigs regularly receive vitamin-enriched food.
For now, the pigs seem to be thriving again — but many are concerned with making sure that the local economy can continue to benefit without the animals being harmed.