What To Know About Pig Island & How It Got Caught Up In The Fyre Fest Controversy

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Hulu's Fyre Fraud and Netflix's FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, documentaries both released in the last week, have viewers reliving the calamity that was Fyre Festival. In both docs, the story's major players like Billy McFarland, Ja Rule, and Michael Swaigen frequently namedrop the feral pigs that inhabit a Bahamian destination known as Pig Island. In the months leading up to Fyre Fest, these pigs, just like the likes of Bella Hadid and Blink-182, became bait used to draw people to what ended up a disastrous event.
Pig Island first became a popular tourist destination for visitors to the Bahamas a few years ago after a local watersport tour operator thought it would be a good idea to begin bringing tourists there, according to Jaclyn Sienna India, founder of the elite travel consultancy Sienna Charles. "He would always pass by those beaches and realised he could capitalise on the pigs being there," India told Refinery29 in an email. The idea took off and the island has since been the backdrop of many social media star selfie posts and episodes of reality TV shows including The Bachelor.
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Now that Pig Island has grown into a trendy attraction, certain tours "command a pretty hefty price tag." India explained that private excursions range from $1,500 (£1,170) to $3,500 (£2,720) for a full or half day experience for "luxury travellers." Those that don't necessarily consider themselves "luxury travellers" can find tours to the island at significantly lower rates. For example, a company called Island Routes Caribbean Adventures offers four-hour tours starting at $197.95 (£154.07).
Even if you can afford the tours, there's still an additional cost to consider. In early 2017, it was reported that the pigs, who used to have their island completely to themselves, had been dying off. At the time, Kim Aranha, president of the Bahamas Humane Society, told Tribune 42, "It could just be a horrible accident where they ate something poisonous. It could be malicious but I don’t really see why someone would go out of their way to hurt those lovely animals. I know there are a lot of silly sailors that go and feed them alcohol to try and get them drunk but that's not to mistake them with the tour operators based out of Nassau who have treated them with excellent care."
These reports came out just about a month after Fyre Fest released its now-infamous promotional video that showed two swimsuit-clad models hanging out in the sand with an adorable black and white spotted pig. From Fyre Fraud, we now know that the people behind the festival did not treat those pigs with respect. "As soon as we get there, they're all swimming up, and someone's feeding them beer, he thinks it's funny. They're like pigeons, except they're pigs with mouths and teeth," Michael Swaigen said of an early trip to Pig Island. Of course, the filmmaker also revealed that the pigs had no problem sticking up for themselves, describing how Billy McFarland, the man behind the fraudulent festival, was bitten by one of the pigs.
All of this to say: If you visit Pig Island, a location many Fyre Festival attendees never actually got to see, make sure go with an experienced tour operator and don't mistreat the pigs. They never asked to be influencers.
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