NASSAU – Investigations are underway to determine what killed a number of swimming pigs in the Exumas, according to officials at the Bahamas Humane Society (BHS) on Sunday.
Reports surfaced over the weekend about the deaths of more than half a dozen pigs, which have become known around the world as one of the Bahamas’ popular tourism attractions.
However officials have said the number of pigs that died remains unclear. The pigs were thrown into the sea after being found dead at Big Major Cay, on Friday, according to BHS President Kim Aranha on Sunday.
She told The Tribune it is unclear if the deaths were accidental or if the pigs were intentionally poisoned. She said that results from water samples collected from BHS and other teams may not readily be available.
“I understand there are seven or eight pigs still alive,” she said. “It’s still unclear on the number of animals that are dead. I’d say it’s more than seven but certainly not the 15 as initially reported on social media. The veterinarians are bringing the samples back but I can’t say how long it will take to get the results.”
She added: “It could just be a horrible accident where they ate something poisonous. 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.”
Aranha said this tragedy “is not good for the economy or tourism because if tourists come and see dead pigs on the beach, it’s not good publicity for us”.
“It’s really a mystery as to what killed these beautiful animals. I believe most of the carcasses were in the ocean and we [BHS] did act as quickly as we can. I think everyone who is an animal lover is concerned and if not, for our economy, can you imagine what impact this could have?” she stressed.
Lee McCoy, owner of Harbour Safaris which runs tours from Nassau to see the swimming pigs, also confirmed that a team had been sent to investigate the cause of death, but said that results may not be ready until Monday.
When asked if there were likely to be negative ramifications for the economy, he said: “It’s not great for it but it won’t be devastating for the economy.”
NBC’s Today Show featured the swimming pigs of Exuma last June, in which Today correspondent Kerry Sanders traced the emergence of a colony of pigs on Big Major Cay.