“Selfish Selfies With Animals”: Tourists are warned against taking selfies with captive animals

Animals should not suffer for the sake of a souvenir photograph

Born Free, an international wildlife charity, has released a report highlighting the dangers of engaging in the popular tourist activity of taking selfies with exotic animals. The report, titled “Selfish Selfies: The Exploitation of Captive Wild Animals for Souvenir Photos,” urges travelers to boycott this industry and raise awareness about the exploitative nature of such interactions.

Numerous “Red Flag Tourist Reports” collected by Born Free describe uncomfortable encounters in tourist hotspots like Mexico, Morocco, Barbados, and Thailand. These reports recount instances of sedated, hostile, and defenseless animals, with aggressive owners charging fees for photos. The charity hopes that by sharing these stories, tourists will become more informed about exploitative locations in popular holiday destinations.

The report warns against participating in photo opportunities with animal props during summer vacations and encourages travelers to pledge against supporting this industry. Born Free’s founder, Virginia McKenna, emphasizes that animals should not suffer for the sake of a souvenir photograph or be subjected to a life of cruelty.

Animals used as photo props are often dressed in costumes, sedated, and chained in stressful environments filled with flashing cameras and loud crowds. The report particularly raises concerns about native and protected wildlife, such as the Bengal slow loris, being used for selfish selfies, as it disrupts their natural behaviors and contributes to the illegal wildlife trade. Animal welfare issues such as mutilation, manipulation, and malnutrition are enabled at the expense of thousands of animals.

The use of captive wild animals as photo props also poses public health and safety risks, including the potential transmission of zoonotic infections like rabies. Due to their unpredictable nature, close contact with wild animals can result in attacks on the public. Therefore, holidaymakers are advised to educate themselves and take steps to protect wildlife living in unnatural habitats.

Born Free calls for stricter regulations within the global travel industry and urges the UK to take a stand against the cruelty and abuse inflicted on photo prop animals worldwide. The charity notes that the increasing popularity of selfie opportunities with wild animals at zoos, attractions, and nightclubs capitalizes on the public’s love for animals and the pursuit of social media validation.


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The report highlights incidents involving celebrities posing with exotic animals for entertainment, which have previously been condemned by organizations like Peta. Born Free co-founder Will Travers warns against the risks associated with taking quick snapshots, emphasizing the negative impacts on animal welfare and the potential harm to people involved.

In an effort to combat animal cruelty and exploitation, Born Free encourages individuals to sign pledges. These pledges aim to persuade national governments, travel companies, and tour operators to refrain from promoting activities that involve animal photo props and close contact with captive wild animals.

The charity emphasizes the need for travel companies and tour operators to take more responsibility by avoiding the promotion or sale of excursions involving animal photo props and close interactions with captive wild animals. Additionally, Born Free calls on social media platforms to treat the publishing of “Selfish Selfies” as a reportable animal cruelty issue.

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