It's almost every animal lover's dream to see the Bahamas' famous swimming pigs. Every year, people flock to the Exuma Cays to bask on the gorgeous white sand beaches, wade in clear blue oceans, and, most importantly, to swim alongside the adorable and seemingly friendly piggies.
And while photos make it look like a dream, we have to wonder: is it ethical? Sometimes, these types of things are too good to be true — and evidently, it seems that's the case for what's known as Pig Beach.
"An uninhabited island in the Bahamas, crystal clear waters with tropical fish swimming by, and an endless supply of treats from locals and visitors. And swimming pigs. Pig Beach in the Caribbean sounds like any pig’s dreamland, right?" Michelle Cehn of World of Vegan writes.
"That’s what I thought when I stumbled upon photos of the swimming pigs on 'Pig Island' and booked my honeymoon trip after my vegan wedding to swim with pigs in the Bahamas."
"As a long-time lover of pigs, I thought that nothing in the world could top seeing pigs run free on their own island experiencing total liberation. I couldn’t wait," she continues.
"But when my husband and I anchored our boat at pig beach, my excitement quickly faded as I had a sinking feeling that something wasn’t right... Really, a lot wasn’t right."
Sadly, Bahamas' famous pig island isn't ethical.
Although the photographs of the swimming pigs are sure to melt your heart, it evidently isn't as wholesome as we might've thought.
According to CNN, there aren't any laws put in place to protect the pigs that roam the beautiful Bahamian beaches. Sadly, tourists sometimes treat the pigs as garbage disposals (hence why they swim towards visitors' boats!). Sometimes, they end up eating too much sand and getting indigestion, or get sick from whatever they can get their hooves on.
According to a 2018 press release, a number of resident pigs ended up dying at Pig Beach, which is rumored to have been from tourists giving them alcohol. This is incredibly abusive, and unfortunately, it's difficult to monitor all the pigs on such a busy island.
It was also rumored the pigs suffered from a lack of fresh water, though reportedly, a nonprofit dedicates time to caring for the pigs, ensuring they have medical care and other necessities of the like.
Cehn also added to her World of Vegan article that many of the swimming pigs ultimately develop skin cancer from constant sun exposure, and lack of shelter. Pigs can usually use mud as sunscreen, but since they're on a beach, they're unable to protect themselves with mud, or really anything else, from the UV rays.
And, sadly, she notes that locals kill pigs as a means of population control. Whether that means selling them as food, or simply culling them is unknown.
Here are other ways to get your pig fix.
If you'd like to hangout with pigs but you don't want to support something that might not have the pigs' best interest at heart, we strongly suggest making your way to a farm animal sanctuary.
We have an ongoing roundup of farm animal sanctuaries across the U.S. that you can visit, if you're looking for piggy snuggles.
So consider skipping Bahamas' pig beach, and visit a local farm animal sanctuary when you return from your trip, instead. You, and the pigs, will be grateful you decided to do so.