Earlier this year, Rihanna’s Instagram picture with a slow loris in Phuket, Thailand led to the arrest of two men who had been charging tourists for photographs with the endangered animals.
The slow loris, frequently exploited by this industry, is a nocturnal animal whose eyes are not equipped to handle the bright flashes of a camera lens or the neon lights of a tourist bar. They are often deafened by the loud music. Being constantly handled by humans causes them paralyzing stress and anxiety, which unfortunately, causes them to look docile and relaxed. This may mislead tourists into believing that the tourist photo prop industry is harmless.
Care for the Wild claims that the industry is, in fact, run by criminal gangs, and that for every wild animal caught and sold to supply it, fifty more die in the process. Young lorises are usually snatched from their mothers at a very young age, transported to exotic animal marketplaces in terrible conditions, and nearly always have their teeth torn out to stop them from biting their new owners.
“It’s great to experience culture when you go overseas,” says Philip Mansbridge, CEO of Care for the Wild. “But although you can leave your stresses and worries at home, you shouldn’t really leave your morals. If you love animals, or even if you just believe that they should be treated with respect, then please don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do at home.”
Speaking to the UK’s Daily Mail, he also said, “If you see a wild animal that isn’t in the wild, then it is time to ask questions. If it is a young animal, where is its mother? Where are its teeth and claws? Why is it so tame? The answers are probably ‘dead,’ ‘ripped out,’ and ‘because it’s terrified.’ That is not the setting for a fun Facebook photo.”
More information about the campaign can be found on Care for the Wild’s campaign website, Right Tourism, which also educates tourists on a variety of other animal abuse issues that they may encounter while traveling, including bull fighting and the illegal trade of cat and dog meat.
Images Credit: Care for the Wild International