This Is What Really Killed the Famous Swimming Pigs

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National Geographic’s Delancey Chambers writes that a recent influx of tourism to the Bahamas and the changing climate–not alcohol–is likely behind the deaths of several of the animals, a popular attraction. 

Seven of the feral animals, which are popular as a tourist attraction, have been found dead on Big Major Cay, one of the islands, according to the Bahamas Humane Society. The death toll may be up to 10, which leaves eight or nine of the famous swine remaining—only a handful of which are adults.

Though initial reports suggested that tourists had given the pigs fatal doses of alcohol, Humane Society inspector Ventoi Bethune told National Geographic that the dead swine had likely ingested sand.

Veterinarians who visited the site found large quantities of sand in the deceased animals’ stomachs, which Bethune says may have been caused by a recent influx of visitors throwing small amounts of food on the beach.

“The pigs have been on the island so long, they are used to foraging for natural food,” Bethune says. The pigs would only go the beach for an occasional treat.

But with the increase in tourism, the pigs are relying on humans more than ever.

“They have been getting a lot of international attention recently,” Bethune says. “Now [the pigs] stay on the beach and aren’t living in the forest.” (See more videos of swimming animals.)

The changing climate may also be partly to blame for harming the pigs—the Bahamas experienced an unusually dry January, according to the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network.

“We found their natural source of water had dried up, so there wasn’t much fresh water on their island to drink,” Bethune says. “We believe it’s a combination of factors that lead to the death of the pigs.”

For full article, video, and photos, see http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/swimming-pigs-bahamas-death/

 

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