The swimming pigs of Exuma are world renowned as a Bahamas tourist attraction
By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
EXUMA’S swimming pigs died from ingesting “sand material,” according to Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries V Alfred Gray.
In an interview with reporters outside the Cabinet Office yesterday, Mr Gray said according to a report by the chief veterinary officer attached to his ministry, an autopsy performed on some of the animals revealed that the pigs had “a good amount of sand” in their stomachs.
More than a half a dozen of the swimming pigs were found dead under mysterious circumstances more than a week ago.
The majority of the pigs, believed to be around 15, are still alive. According to reports in a local daily earlier this month, the owners of the pigs believe the animals died after being fed “rum, beer and the wrong food”.
Yesterday, Mr Gray said blood samples from the pigs have been sent off to labs to determine if any other factors could have led to the death of the prized animals.
“The report is in place, I have not had the chance to digest the total contents of it but I am satisfied that the pigs died from ingestion of sand material,” Mr Gray said.
“As you know some people feed the pigs as they swim in the water, other people throw things on the sand for them to eat from the sand. You know sand is indigestible, sand cannot be digested, and the autopsy which was performed on one or two of the animals showed that they had a good amount of sand in their stomach.
“Sand not being able to be passed out by normal processes or digested had something to do with those animals having died.
“They died because of that kind of ingestion. That’s the conclusion the veterinarian drew from his autopsy. We’ve sent blood samples off to labs to be tested to see whether there is any other contributing factor but to him that was the main cause, preliminarily found to have affected the lives of those animals.”
Mr Gray said his ministry, along with the Ministry of Tourism and the owners of the pigs, are putting protocols in place to ensure the surviving pigs are only fed by hand.
“If you want to swim with the pigs that’s fine, but we believe that feeding them is going to be a problem because we cannot control people giving them beers and wine and all kinds of things which you know animals cannot digest like humans do,” Mr Gray said.
“So if we put a rope up around a certain area you can go and swim with the pigs and take photographs. That’s what it was intended to be, but people have taken the liberty to feed them and the worst part is when they throw the food on the sand, the animals will eat it. But when they eat the food, they also ingest sand material which is not good for the animals, and hence we’re having some problems.”
Mr Gray reassured the public that things will get back to normal on the island “in the shortest possible time”.