The Cruel Cost of Animal Selfies

A campaign is working to raise awareness of “bad animal selfies” as reports come in of the brutal conditions these picture perfect animals must live in.

A tourist poses with a wild sloth | © World Animal Protection Organization
Tourists pose with a captive pink dolphin | © World Animal Protection

“Animals are snatched from the wild — often illegally — and used by irresponsible tour operators who cruelly exploit and injure wildlife to entertain and provide harmful photo opportunities for tourists.”

WAP investigators revealed that wild sloths are captured and tied to trees with rope, not surviving beyond six months post-capture. Birds are revealed to have severe abscesses on their feet, while anteaters display signs of physical and psychological abuse by their owners. Green anacondas were found to be dehydrated and wounded, caiman crocodiles are often restrained with rubber bands around their jaws; while those cuddly ocelots are stuffed into too-small, barren cages.

A ‘bad selfie’ with a sloth | © Nando Machado/World Animal Protection

“The wildlife selfie craze is a worldwide phenomenon fueled by tourists, many of whom are unaware of the abhorrent conditions and terrible treatment wild animals endure to provide that special souvenir photo.”

While animal cruelty in tourism exists around the world — from elephant riding in Thailand to swimming with dolphins in Mexico — the World Animal Protection focused their investigation on the gateway cities of Manaus, Brazil and Puerto Alegria in Peru. Ironically, of the 20 percent of animals involved in Latin America’s unethical animal tourism, 60 percent are in fact protected by international law, reports WAP Global Wildlife Advisor, Dr. Neil D’Cruz.

A tourist poses with a captive anteater | © World Animal Protection
A captive ocelot | © World Animal Protection

Founding Editor, Unearth Women. Previous Editor at The Infatuation, Atlas Obscura & Culture Trip. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter:

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