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Where did the Exuma pigs come from?

Swimming pig in a water at beach on Exuma island Bahamas

Their presence on Big Major Cay, which is one of hundreds of islands in the Bahamas Cays’ archipelago, has been a mystery even to the locals. However, there are some pretty solid theories that would make these pigs either very lucky or/and brave survivors. However, before exploring where they came from, let’s first actually give them a proper introduction.

As you may or may not know, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas is an independent country made up of over 700 islands, many of which are uninhabited and smaller than a square mile. The archipelago of islands stretches for over 300 miles and their shores are a popular anchor point for yachts and tourist ships. On one such island is called Big Major Cay and its located approximately in the middle of a long stretch of Bahamas’ Cays (islands). On it, you will find approximately 20 human friendly pigs leaving peacefully and carefree. The pigs spend most of their time on a small western stretch of the island named, appropriately, the Pig Beach. This beautiful part of the Cay has crystal white sands and pristine, calm blue waters. The pigs themselves spend most of their time in the shade at the edge of the beach. However, they are strong swimmers and, and hence, often venture out to the waters to cool down or greet incoming yachts of excited tourists. Here is a short video about the pigs as well as documenting some of their encounters with human visitors:


As you will hear in the video, there are two running theories as to how the pigs got to the island. First, is the idea that sailors or locals travelling between Caribbean islands decided to unload some of their cargo mid-way between their destination with a plan to come back and cook the pigs or re-load them back on their ship. For some reason this did not happen allowing pigs to survive and thrive. The second theory is that a cargo ship sank nearby and the pigs managed to swim to the island on their own. This theory also makes them survivalists. In either case, the actual timeline of these events is completely unknown – they could have arrived to the island 20 or as much as 200 years ago (which would make the current generation 20th or so since pigs generally live between 8-10 years).

Of course, one other theory not mentioned in the video is that the pigs where put on the island intentionally as a plot to draw tourism and associated revenues. What makes this idea rather unlikely is that the popularity of Exuma’s pigs grew quite organically and virally over the last 10 years or so, mainly through social media and platforms such as Instagram. Pictures and videos of the cute animals are especially attention giving their impressive swimming skills. Hence, posting a picture in a paradise like surroundings with a cute pig swimming with you has definitely been a popular way to get social media attention and a cool way to impress friends. In fact, #swimmingpigs on Instagram has as of this writing almost 61 thousand posts and all actually relate to pigs come from the Bahamas.

Unfortunately, popularity brought to the Exuma pigs has not been very good for their survival. Due to daily human visitors who feed them, the pigs have become reliant on people for food and their ability to source their own snack sources has diminished. There have been several stories reported in the last couple years of Exuma pigs dying from being feed beer and other alcohol. Hence, if you are planning to visit these lovely creatures on Big Major Cay, please be mindful of their well-being and be responsible when feeding and playing with them. A mix of fresh veggies is a good bet to bring with you, avoid feeding them with processed foods rich in sugar and salt. Importantly, takes lots of cool pics and have fun!

So, after all is said and done, the fact remains nobody knows for sure where the swimming pigs of Exuma have come from. One thing is for sure though, we are keen for them to stay and thrive on the Big Major Cay for generations to come!

Written by Ewelina Binkowska

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