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Shut It Down: Locked Up On A Barren Rock, Then Driven Into The Waves For Tourists

The 'remote rock' where the pigs are kept.

The 'remote rock' where the pigs are kept.

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By RICARDO WELLS 

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE treatment of a group of swimming pigs in west Grand Bahama has given way to a growing dispute between the operation’s proprietors and local and international animal rights activists, The Tribune has uncovered.

Celebrity Eco Adventures, an expanding aquatic-tourism operation based at Crystal Beach/Deadman’s Reef, Grand Bahama, has come under fire for the way its 19 pigs are housed and treated.

Prominent among the concerns being raised and shared across social media is the “remote rock” where the pigs are kept.

The “rock”, which reportedly doesn’t provide any space for fresh water wallowing (the process of mud bathing) or adequate feeding, has led animal protectionists and activists to call for the outright closure of the operation. One such post by Canadian travel blogger Kennidy Fisher, the person behind the ‘Kennidy From Canada’ travel blog, described a recent trip with Celebrity Eco Adventures as “heartbreaking”.

Ms Fisher, in a Facebook post made over the weekend, lamented her decision to patronise the venture entirely. “I went thinking it would be the same experience and I was completely wrong,” she said, referring to the world-renowned Exuma swimming pigs operation.

“I already went here reading the reviews knowing what I might see but I wanted to see it for myself,” Ms Fisher added. “So these poor pigs are kept in a crate about a (kilometre) off the actual beach where they proceeded to lie to us saying the pigs live their live freely on this beach and they are all wild and blah blah blah.”

Recalling her ordeal further, Ms Fisher said employees of Celebrity Eco Adventures could be seen throwing the pigs into the water — “in huge waves, with current”.

She added: “They made these pigs swim in water and they were not allowed back on the beach… they were fighting for their lives, and people are just trying to take photos with them, it was horrible.”

Ms Fisher said her group opted not to participate any further in the tour in protest, and demanded a refund.

The post garnered over 100 comments up to press time yesterday, with dozens of people backing her account of the operation and others defending Celebrity Eco Adventures.

When contacted yesterday, Grand Bahama Humane Society Executive Director Tip Burrows said her organisation has received several “concerning” reports related to the operation in recent months, mainly the alleged failure to adhere to “general humane standards”.

Ms Burrows said these reports have been forwarded to the Ministry of Tourism, Department of Agriculture and the Grand Bahama Tourism Board, all in an attempt to verify how the operation was established and what regulations it is being made to follow.

She said these had resulted in the temporary relocation of the pigs, an occurrence she touted as a “short-lived success”.

Ms Burrows said Celebrity Eco Adventures, based on information GBHS has gathered, has and continues to place its pigs in “adverse” living conditions.

“We’ve raised issues with the relevant authorities and government agencies. We’ve seen things and we’ve heard things that have left us with so many questions. At the end of the day, we just want to ensure the environment that these animals are in is humane,” Ms Burrows told The Tribune.

“These pigs are on a rock, not a cay and not an island, a rock surrounded by water and opened to all sorts of adverse conditions including sea swells, waves and inclement weather. That, in of itself, is an issue. If this operation is to be permitted long-term; the basics of shade, proper housing, feeding and all that goes with that ought to be looked into and regulated.”

Celebrity Eco Adventures, for its part, maintained it has done everything necessary to ensure its pigs are “taken care of”.

Speaking with The Tribune yesterday, Barbara Darville, one of the company’s lead operators, called social media outcry around its product the “reality” of running an animal-centric business in an animal friendly world.

She said despite reports of the contrary, Celebrity Eco Adventures works to ensure the proper health of its pigs, adding that the conditions its pigs are kept in are in line with recommendations laid out by various government organisations and local veterinarians.

“Our pigs are taken care of; completely. Check our records and speak to the officials here in Grand Bahama, we are doing our part,” she said.

When asked directly about the criticism levied against her company, she added: “We are aware of it. You will have people who are oppose to any business that is making money off of animals. I understand that. There are parts of all of this I feel are malicious toward our business; but I tell myself that once the persons who are genuinely interested in our business are happy with the product, we are doing a great job.”

Mrs Darville continued: “You can’t get lost in the animal rights talk because no matter what, they’ll call it a negative…everything is abuse…everything is a problem. But there is none of that here. We love our pigs and we treat them well.”

A source with direct knowledge of the pigs’ health history told The Tribune yesterday the animals have remained in good health throughout the lifespan of the two-year venture.

Swimming pigs have become a mainstay in the Bahamas.

Back in 2017, the deaths of several of the pigs in Exuma garnered global attention, mainly due to their notoriety and fame.

It was later determined the pigs died from ingesting “sand material,” that despite initial concerns the animals were indirectly poisoned by bad feed or harmful products given to them by guests.

The occurrence reignited talks around the stalled Animal Protection and Control Act, legislation that looks to regulate the protection and treatment of all animals in the Bahamas.

The Bahamas Animal Protection and Control Council, which was establish to develop the Act and promote its contents, has reportedly met only once since the incident.

Kim Aranha, a member of that council and the current president of Bahamas Humane Society in Nassau, yesterday confirmed that council has called for standard regulations across the “swimming pigs” industry, which she noted has “sprung up and become a real problem”.

“These things are everywhere in the Bahamas now and everyone wants to know who is governing this to ensure these pigs are being treated well. This is simple, there needs to be inspection, monitoring and some level of regulation,” she said.

“We just need clarity. Hopefully we get that soon.”

Comments

sheeprunner12 1 week, 2 days ago

This unfortunate pig story is what happens when some fools try to duplicate something that has evolved naturally on an Exuma cay ........... This so wrong and disgusting.

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tell_it_like_it_is 1 week, 1 day ago

Yeah the part about throwing the pigs into the waves was just despicable.
It's hard to stop people who worship at the alter of the almighty Dollar!! smh

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joeblow 1 week, 2 days ago

There is a similar project in Abaco which only gets rave reviews! Its about the motivation of the people involved in these projects. The question is who can step in and ensure it is done professionally and humanely? I suspect nobody!

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 1 day ago

It is funny (and suspicious) that these tourism-related miscues happen and little is done to address them by MOT ..... rogue jet skis, unsafe pleasure boats, Fyre Festival, downtown/crime, now abused pigs

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proudloudandfnm 1 week, 2 days ago

This is is just stupid. Close it down. Ignorant people copying an idea that happened naturally. Just close it down already...

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JackArawak 1 week, 1 day ago

this is a snap shot of The Bahamas and the government's view of animals......there have been complaints "for months" and the operation is still on going? I guess Minnis will "appoint a committee" Probably the owner has paid or will pay the right person. Yawn.

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Sue242 1 week, 1 day ago

People's attitude towards animals in this country is heartbreaking for the most part. Just take a look at the majority of the neighborhood dogs they call "pets" for goodness sake?! The integrity of a nation really shows in its treatment of its defenseless animals. That venture should be shut down and those pigs sent to a better place.

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Dawes 1 week, 1 day ago

Only if there is enough bad publicity will the Government care. There is a supreme court ruling against the Dolphin facility on the island opposite Sandals in Nassau and still to this day they operate. If a dollar can be made it will be, whether legal or not, or even morally right or not. Swimming pigs is a great day etc and many islands now have them which makes sense. However if that picture of where these pigs stay is true then this one should be shut down as that is inhumane.

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DWW 1 week, 1 day ago

As they say "often imitated never replicated". how about creating some other interesting adventure tour instead of copying the existing model. Surely these 'celebrity eco' people could put some brain power into creating something new and interesting instead of trying to capitalize on the success of other enterprises.

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scampi75 1 week, 1 day ago

This story is heart breaking and shows clearly how little interest we as a people have in the humane treatment of animals. In other areas of the country the pigs live on island with trees and bush for shade and a source for fresh water. What I see here are cages on a rock, nothing cclose to a normal environment for these animals. Shame

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 1 day ago

Indeed ......... its criminal. Who are these scoundrels??????

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DDK 1 week, 1 day ago

Celebrity Eco Sadists who should replace the pigs on the rock. Makes our sicko government look greedy and nasty as well.

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bogart 1 week, 1 day ago

..........hmmmmmmm........SEEMS REEKING.... OF... POLITICAL COMPLICIT EXPERTS.......EXPERTISE.....PORE PEOPLES RESIDENTS PUSHED INTO CARS TO SURVIVE.......PUSHED RESIDENTS INTO POVERTY....TO JOIN SOUP LINES TO SURVIVE...........PUSHED PLENTY TAXPAYERS MONEY INTO LUCAYAN HOTEL TO SURVIVE.......pushed taxpayers money further into deep water paying stamp taxes strugglin to survice........PUSHED TAXPAYERS MONEY INTO REDUNDANCY HOTEL WORKERS SALARIES SEPARATION FOR DEM TO SURVIVE.........YEP...seems officials wid expertise somewhere behind dis fiasco.....

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John 1 week, 1 day ago

The picture is in black and white and clear as day! And they have their own lil cay..more than the slaves got, and they pigs!

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licks2 1 week, 1 day ago

The developing world countries that grow pigs for yinna to eat DON'T HAVE WALLOWING PITS OR WHATEVER YINNA WANT TO CALL THEM!! Pigs are grown in pens about the same size for large scale productions!! Smaller farms usually have the whole pen as a mud wallow area because the whole pen is muddy!! Pigs and other mammals "rut" in mud to cover themselves with mud to keep away fly, mosquito and other pests. . .not because they like or need mud!! In African wild. . .elephants "rut" in the mud too. . .but are kept away from mud in captivity!

As for throwing the pigs into the water. . .to swim. . .is no different than having a pig launch from the beach. . .PIGS ARE NOT AQUATIC MAMMALS. . .IN THE WILD THEY TEND TO AVOID THE WATER!! AN EXCEPTION IS THE CAPYBARA IN SOUTH AMERICA. The swimming pigs are a hit around the world because they are an enigma. . .that is because pigs avoid swimming!! Check the world standard for keeping pigs. . .concrete floors with plenty fresh air. . .sans muddy pools!

Now this is no endorsement of the operation. . . this is only to say STOP JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS WITH EVERY THING YALL HEAR. ANALYSE INFORMATION FOR YA SELF. Yall "suck down" all the information given to yall by them white peoples dem. . .yet yall ignored anything "the lil local black girl" gave. Yall just will not change yinna ways. Use yinna heads. . .THINK PEOPLES. . .THINK!!

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TalRussell 1 week, 1 day ago

Watts up with using Colony of Out Islands animals as beachgoers picture taking selfie props, yes, no?...... Ain't long before when the 35 comrade red shirts MP's run out healthy 'imported' pigs - they'll turn using 'out paycheques' locally born and raised Out Islander PeoplePublic as 'swim da tourists' selfie props, yes, no.... There's no making this piggy props stuff up, yes, no?

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sealice 1 week, 1 day ago

typical Bahamians - can't come up with an original idea for themselves so it's back to the farm animals..... We see how Bahamians in general and especially our politicians treat each other and our youth....why would we expect anything more for pigs?? Just put em in a box from 8 till 3 everyday and give em an arswiper job when the graduate....

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TalRussell 1 week, 1 day ago

Yes, yes would've presented slippery uphill muddy challenge list single fresh original tourism's It's Better in the Colony of Out Islands idea come up under red shirts voters slipped into Montagu's comrade Dionisio James, yes, no likes how much governing skill would it have taken to keep the tourists selfie props pigs, all muddied up, yes, no - not supposed Wash, Dry, Press 'Em Pigs, yes, no?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 week, 1 day ago

I'm sensing a lot of people posting here cannot swim. I'm also sensing many posting here have forgotten how inhumane the conditions are in our prison system. There are many prisoners able to swim who would happily trade places with any one of these 'abused' swimming pigs. And with the sweltering heat of summer around the corner, we can look forward to once again talking about the 'inhumanely' treated horses on our streets. Oh well, so much for keeping things in perspective.

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sheeprunner12 1 week, 1 day ago

Good points Mudda ............ We are collectively judged by how we care for the dumb animals

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licks2 1 week ago

Why??? What is wrong with their housing. . .out there for them is better than all other pig housing in this nation except the beach pigs in exuma and the government agricultural station of Gladstone road. . .sloppy pens from birth to death. . .no cool sea breeze. . .all kind of crap for food. So Adrian. . .I fail to get your MADNESS.

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Chucky 1 week, 1 day ago

"animals cant feel pain". a quote from Creed Bratton

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themessenger 1 week, 1 day ago

"Everywhere there's lots of piggies living piggy lives, you can see them out for dinner with their piggy wives, clutching forks and knives, to eat their bacon!" A quote from The Beatles................

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 1 day ago

Can't they come up with other ideas? This is crazy

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licks2 1 week ago

Can you come up with better ideas??? You tell we how to "de-pig" our tourist product!! Yall just go off with any crap. . .then oppress us with yinna stupid bleeding heart nonsense!! For example, yinna cried bloody foul until we Bahamians can't eat turtle meat without going to jail!! Yall ninnies don't see that the rest of the region agreed that the turtles needed some kind of protection . . .but they also realized that their people had a cultural tradition of eating turtle meat as well! So their took a balanced approach. . .regulations were introduced reducing the killing and eating of the meat. . .but no. . .yinna ignoramus cut out all killing and eating the meat in the Bahamas. . . regardless of how the people them feel! That een the most dumbest part of the thing. . .them same turtles around here what we can't eat go swim right down south into them areas where there are controlled killing and eating. . . THEY EATING OUR TURTLES THEM WHAT SWAM RIGHT FROM HERE OVER THERE AND GET EAT. . .all the while our stupidity goes on. Even whales are allowed to be eaten by native whale eating cultures. . .the killing and eating is regulated but allowed on a limited scale!! Only in the Bahamas we are stupid when it comes to conservation. . .we are forced to leave the resource alone. . .while the rest of the sensible world regulate theirs. . .allowing their people to continue to eat their heritage foods!!

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sheeprunner12 1 week ago

Who is "you" and "yinna"?????? ............. You are a jackass!!!!!!!!

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bogart 1 week ago

WHO WOUDDA BEEN ADVISING DEM TO GO DAT FAR.......into da project..????......Knowing this would be in competition with da unique EXUMA...pigs...????? If instead of this pproject......perhaps they woudda been better off wid great care an attention.....TRAINING DESE PIGS TO DO DA JUNKANOO RUSH OUT ....for the tourists....

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sheeprunner12 1 week ago

No issue with duplication of the concept ....... but it's the poor treatment of the dumb animals, that is at the heart of the issue here ........ Our people have a serious reading comprehension and "fake news" problem ............SMH

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