By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Tourism is investigating a report alleging pigs have been mistreated at an excursion business in Grand Bahama.
In a TikTok video shared tens of thousands of times yesterday, two women visitors complained about the purported treatment of the pigs at Celebrity Eco Adventures.
“Yes, we have seen the video and we are reviewing, we’re investigating,” Latia Duncombe, Director General of Tourism, told The Tribune yesterday. “We don’t have anything substantive at this time, but I can commit to you to reach out once we have completed that and share more details with you.”
In the video, which was liked more than 28,000 times up to press time, the women said the pigs were pushed to venture far from the seashore to interact with people.
In the clip, tour guides appeared to be forcing the pigs into the water. Some of the animals seemed uncomfortable.
One woman said the experience was different from what she encountered in Exuma.
“I thought (the pigs) kind of ran free on the island,” she said. “They are confined to this dog pen area and corralled out of a gate and forced to swim out to sea.
“Their eyes looked pretty red and irritated from the salt water and people were feeding them in salt water and when they were treading water, they were getting a lot of water in their mouths.
“I believe in transparency, and I wish I would have had this information before booking so I could have made the decision whether or not this is something I want to support.”
Paul Darville, the brother of Health Minister Dr Michael Darville, and his wife, Barbara, own the company, which reportedly has 23 pigs.
Mrs Darville told The Tribune the women in the video were among over 100 guests on a tour on Saturday. She said no complaints were reported to management or staff.
She denied that the animals were abused.
“I would never endanger my pigs,” she said. “We don’t let the pigs swim all the way out to the island out there.
“The pigs are able to walk in low tide to the sandbar where they can stand in the water. The pigs love to go in the water, especially for the treats. We don’t have to force the pigs to go in the water.”
She said the 23 pigs are rotated between two tours held at 11am and 1pm.
“The tour is not for everybody, and there were no complaints reported to the cruise ship where the tours were booked,” Mrs Darville said.
In 2019, the business was criticised over the housing condition of some 19 pigs on a remote rock in the sea. Animal control officials later ordered that the animals be kept in a suitable enclosure on the mainland.
The operators complied and were allowed to resume their operations.
Tip Burrows, executive director of the Humane Society of Grand Bahama, said the organisation received dozens of calls, messages, and emails from people about the pigs.
She said the TikTok video was disturbing.
“It did not appear the pigs were happily swimming and interacting with people, and it appeared to be more of a forced situation,” she said.
Kim Aranha, president of the Bahamas Humane Society, said some animals are being exploited.
“The swimming pigs have become a sort of an epidemic,” she said. “Why does anyone care that pigs can swim out into the water to get a piece of food? I don’t understand this.”