By Carlena Knight
For many, pigs are known to be dirty creatures or a finger licking meal, but one local animal lover is hoping to break that mold with her out-of-the-box business, Pigs in Paradise.
The three-month old business sees both locals and tourists swimming, walking and feeding over 10 of the four-legged mammals on a tour on one of Antigua and Barbuda’s most popular beaches, Runaway.
Observer media arrived on the scene last Wednesday to get the full experience of this unorthodox business and caught up with the owner of the company, Chantelle Winter, during one of her tours.
She explained that it was her love for animals that really birthed the vision for this tourist attraction as that saved several of the piglets from a farm that was being closed. The others are ones that she raised on her own farm.
She also mentioned that if there are any farmers who have piglets that they no longer need, they can reach out.
Her biggest goal however is to change the mindset that persons have towards pigs.
After all, as she shares, history has proven that these creatures are quite intelligent. In fact, during the age of pirates, they would use pigs to help with navigation.
“They would throw the pigs overboard and they would begin swimming in whatever direction land was. Pigs can sense land from hundreds of miles away. So, the pirates would toss them over and follow their lead. We want to make it an educational experience as well. Therefore, we tell many facts about the pigs, because in all honesty, they are thought of negatively in many people’s eyes. A lot of people believe they are dirty animals, and this why I aim to rebrand the pigs in a sense. They should be given more credit,” Winter explained.
With all of the animals being piglets, Winter revealed that once the pigs get too big, they go into retirement. Some safely on farms through the work of local sponsors in a charity that she’s set up.
“We haven’t really decided on the age, but it depends on how well the charity goes, because obviously, the animals are very expensive to keep, and as we continue to breed and bring out new piglets then obviously the older ones would have to live out their life on the land, so at least, for a year or two years that’s how long we would want the pigs to live a happy life on our land. We will take care of them. Some of the locals who come out here, they want to help us,” she said.
Winter revealed however that it is still quite surprising to see just how much traction the business is getting, not only from tourists, but locals who have visited the tour.
“It’s a fluke business I would say. I can’t actually explain it, it just kind of come as a whirlwind. It wasn’t planned at all, but I am so happy, I couldn’t be more grateful for the support that we have had,” Winter declared.
She explained that there are still a lot of ideas to expand the business.
“We want to also be able to pick up the people from their hotels and bring them to this beach. We hope to offer in the future multiple pig tours which deliver different experiences, like even going to the offshore islands for a day, and drinks and food all-inclusive for instance. We want to invest in pig food, helping the Ministry of Agriculture come up with a solution so farmers can continue to breed pigs, especially since the price of pig food has recently gone up. Also, we have begun to use the pig waste as plant fertilizer,” Winter added.
Nevertheless, the entrepreneur is encouraging others to “follow their passion” and come up with quirky business ideas of their own, whatever it may be.
“I would say go for it. Follow your passion. I mean, I really created my dream business as I have a huge love for both animals and beautiful scenery. I love the beach; the beach is where I come to work every day,” she said.
Pigs in Paradise can be found on Facebook and Instagram with tours going for US$40 for adults and US$20 for children that are tourists, while for locals, its EC$70 for adults and EC$35 for children. Children under five enter free. Tours are available all-day Tuesdays-Fridays, and only in the mornings on Saturdays. You can call 720-1171 or email [email protected] too book appointments.