As social media has blown up in the past decade or so, so too has the wild animal selfie trade. Tourists in search of the perfect photo with a wild animal to garner likes on social media fuel the corrupt wildlife trade that not only harms animals, particularly endangered species, but is wrought with human rights violations as well.
When paying tourists eagerly wait in line to pose with a wild animal, they fail to think of where the animals come from and how they got there. The truth is tourist attractions like these either acquire animals directly from the wild from wildlife traffickers, who often kill the adult animals to kidnap an easier to control and more profitable baby. Alternatively, these facilities maintain a constant supply of selfie prop animals by practicing “speed breeding,” where babies are immediately separated from their mothers at birth so they can be handled and bottle-fed by paying tourists, and the mothers can become pregnant again as soon as possible.
With profit as the priority, the health and well-being of these captive animals used in the trade are neglected. In order to control these wild animals and force them to submit to unnatural commands like posing with tourists, handlers often execute violent force. Sadly, this is the case at a tourist attraction called The Million Years Stone Park and Crocodile Farm near the beach resort of Pattaya in Thailand, where video footage shows a handler poking a captive tiger in the face with a burning metal rod in order to make it pose for photos.
This video sparked significant public outrage, and the facility has stated the handler in the video has since been fired, but that does not mean that the tigers are out of harm’s way. A petition on Care2 has been written to demand this tourist attraction get shut down and that all the animals be sent to a reputable sanctuary. Please take a moment to sign the petition in support of these innocent captive tigers.
Tinder and Instagram have made efforts to combat the wildlife selfie trade and ban related photos and posts, but many people are still unaware of the dangers involved. The best way to combat the wild animal selfie trade is by never supporting these types of attractions and by educating your friends and family about the dangers involved in the trade, so please make sure you share this with your network as a reminder that wild animals deserve to live freely, not as selfie props for our entertainment!
Image Source: Pixabay