After allegations of “animal cruelty” surfaced via social media last month, April, regarding the treatment of the pigs that are part of the Crystal Beach, Deadman’s Reef Tour, tourism officials travelled to Grand Bahama recently (Friday, May 2), to investigate and see for themselves how the animals are being treated.
Over the Easter holiday, reports from a Canadian travel blogger, Kennidy Fisher, the individual behind the “Kennidy From Canada” travel blog, circulated social media describing a recent trip with Celebrity Eco-Adventures as “heartbreaking,” claiming that the pigs were being “mistreated.”
Celebrity Eco-Adventures proprietors – Paul and Barbara Darville – refuted claims and public relations’ consultant for the local tour business Peter Adderley, president of Creative Works, said that concerns of genuine animal rights’ activists cannot and should not be dismissed.
As a result, Adderely and the proprietors welcomed CEO Tourism Development Corporation Janet Johnson and her team to tour the operation last week.
Following their tour Johnson said, since the post was published that corporation was “very concerned” thus the visit to the island to ensure that the pigs were being properly cared for and the experience was one visitors can enjoy.
“We had a look at the suites where the pigs are housed, there are a number of them, they are separated into compartments and they seem to, generally, be quite healthy,” said Johnson during an interview.
She noted that the pigs are not over fed “… The proprietor explained that he purchases a particular type of grain that keeps their weight in check.”
Johnson added that she is satisfied the pigs are getting the necessary exercise and shade, and in an area where they are afforded a mud bath. “It appears that they (proprietors) have considered a pigs’ life.”
She disclosed that officials did speak to the proprietors about the need to, “really monitor and respond to social media. You can’t really allow the negative to stay out there. Additionally, one of the things Mr. Darville assured me he would do is take down the bunker, where the pigs are all pictured.”
Johnson assured operators that the corporation does intend to close the facility. “However, we wanted to provide skilled advice to our entrepreneurs and best practices. We have some regulations that are being crafted now at the office of the Attorney General, we hope to get those pretty soon so that all of our Pig Tour venues will have regulations posted for tourists interacting with the animals, they are wild animals; we have to remember that; we need to ensure that that the pigs are safe and the public is safe.”
Adderley noted that he was delighted that Johnson took time out to come to Grand Bahama to look at the facility.
“This is an opportunity to show off the fact that the pigs are healthy, they’re happy, they are well treated, that the tour is controlled and we offer a product that is fit for visitors and locals.”
He continued, “The proprietors, the entire management and staff family at Crystal Beach, were pleased to welcome Janet Johnson in her capacities as both a Ministry of Tourism and Aviation representative and a known animal lover.
“We found the announcement of pending regulations as great news for the industry. It would mean that once the regulated standards continue to be met, persons with damaging agendas would not be able to make credible headlines. We are satisfied that Janet Johnson’s findings, along with that of a highly qualified vet, make our committed points – the pigs are happy, healthy and well kept. The pigs do not live on some rock on an isolated cay.
“The pig encounter tour and experience are controlled in a safe and sound environment for people and pigs. It is an attractive addition to Grand Bahama’s tourism product. The product continues to draw increasing numbers from visitors and locals.”
Adderley added that activities on Crystal Beach enhances Grand Bahama’s economy. “A significant number of Bahamians have secured jobs and contractual work. Tour bus operators and cab drivers benefit and the Darvilles are proving daily that raw born Bahamian business persons can own and operate world class attractions.
“We look forward to more and more persons enjoying the swimming pigs experience and regret that the misleading and false reports of an ill motivated few successfully made headlines. Janet Johnson’s input was objective and very much constructive. The Darvilles have intensified training for staff and are set to launch a more extensive social media campaign. Tremendous sacrifices have been made and significant resources exhausted to make this dream a reality. We will stop at nothing to make Crystal Beach one of the top experiences in the world. We remain grateful for the incredible professional cooperation and support being given by the leadership team at the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation office on Grand Bahama,” said Adderley.