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Saturday, December 3, 2022

A Progreso beach is more popular now that the pigs have moved in

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Pig Beach, Progreso. Photo: Abraham Bojórquez / Yucatán Magazine

A beach and some pigs.

This is the simple concept that is drawing more and more visitors to Pig Beach in Yucalpetén, the place a family of these adorable creatures now call home.

The recently opened tourist attraction between Chelem and Progreso houses eight Vietnamese pigs and was created as a space for recreation and raising awareness for animal protection.

Pig Beach, Progreso. Photo: Abraham Bojórquez / Yucatán Magazine

The story of Pig Beach is about second chances, and how unfavorable circumstances can take a turn for the better. In mid-2021, authorities were notified about strange noises coming from an empty lot in Progreso. While inspecting, the municipality found eight newborn piglets and their dying mother.

Where the mother came from or who her owners were is unknown. Progreso’s Environmental Police Corps took care of the family, but unfortunately, it was already too late for the mother.

Pig Beach, Progreso, Yucatán. Photo: Abraham Bojórquez

One day, the pigs were taken to a little-frequented beach. Environmental Police officials noticed that the piglets enjoyed playing in the sea and chilling in the sand. The municipality then had the idea to create a tourist attraction around them, similar to the one that exists in the Bahamas.

And just like that, the pigs went from vulnerable orphans to beloved local celebrities, and the beach itself underwent quite a transformation. It used to be a forgotten corner, covered in litter and discarded tires. Now, the place is not only clean but has become the first smoke-free beach in Yucatán.

Pig Beach, Progreso. Photo: Abraham Bojórquez / Yucatán Magazine

The piggies quickly became local darlings and were given names like Petunia, Pepa, Walt, and Rocky. They spend most of their day inside a barn but are let out to roam free for an hour starting at noon Thursday through Sunday. If you want to swim or take a selfie with them, this is your window of opportunity.

Some seem to enjoy getting their backs wet for a while —they are being taught to swim, for their safety. They would be outside longer, but the ecological police say their skin is sensitive to the sun.

Others just like to bask in the sunlight while they twist and wallow in the sand. They are all extremely friendly to humans, but they can get stressed pretty quickly if overly harassed.

Pig Beach, Progreso, Yucatán. Photo: Abraham Bojórquez

Carlos Téllez and Fabiola Fuentes, who run the gift shop at the beach’s entrance, expressed concerns about the increase in the number of visitors, especially during the weekend. “We would like to encourage parents to teach their children about being gentle and careful towards the pigs before they come down to Pig Beach,” said Carlos.

In adulthood, the pigs weigh from 90 to 130 pounds. They can live up to 20 years and are extremely intelligent. They feed mostly on fruits and green vegetables and, as the sign by the barn at Pig Beach emphasizes, they must not eat chocolate under any circumstances.

Do’s and Don’ts at Pig Beach

Do:

  • caress the pigs
  • take photos with them
  • join them at the beach

Don’t:

  • feed them
  • carry or drag them
  • let children harass them

Jesús Campos of the Environmental Police gave us the good news that one of the female pigs is expecting babies, due the first week of June. He explained that they are attempting to inseminate all females in the family during their first year because it is not safe for them to give birth after that. The plan, of course, is to grow the family. To ensure that the males don’t impregnate their sisters, they all have been neutered.

Pig Beach has the potential to introduce a new kind of tourism in the area, one that has an educational and environmental aspect to it.

If you go

From Mérida, take the highway to Progreso and then turn left at the exit to Chelem. After coming down the bridge, take a left on Calle 22 and then a right on Indeco. The entrance is at the end of the road, to the left.

Instagram: @pigbeach_progreso

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