The Consequences Of Taking Selfies With Exotic Animals In Foreign Countries

While the world is filled with animal lovers who would never want to see any harm come to a wild creature, the truth is that humans have never been particularly good as a species to our animal cousins. Whether it is destroying their habitats or hunting them to extinction, people have a great deal of harm to the rest of nature. One of the latest trends that has caused huge problems in places such as South America and Thailand is that of animals abused for tourist selfies.

These types of activities have become more and more popular as people flock to get a photograph taken with an animal that they might otherwise never get a chance to see up close. Unfortunately, the treatment of these creatures effectively just makes it animal abuse in foreign countries, where the laws and regulations don’t make it difficult enough for these unethical practices to be carried out. For animals that are often shy and unaccustomed to human contact it can be a stressful and frightening experience, especially when combined with the cruel way they are locked up and treated by their handlers.

So make sure you read on to understand why you shouldn't pay to pose with exotic animals, especially when it involves direct contact with them.

  • The Animals Are Kept In Horrendous Conditions

    Unfortunately, most tourists who get photographs taken with these exotic animals are unaware of the cruel and degrading treatment they suffer. Many are kept restrained so they cannot move around and are punished by not being fed. They are taken away from their mothers at too-young of an age. They are drugged and malnourished. This leads to serious physical and mental anguish for the exotic animals the folks who are taking photos with love so much.

    “This footage is extremely distressing. We know that animals stolen from the wild for use as tourist photo props are kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food, causing them severe psychological trauma," said World Animal Protection CEO Steve McIvor.

  • Sloths Are Abducted From Their Natural Environment In Peru

    Sloths Are Abducted From Their Natural Environment In Peru
    Photo: Allhailfintan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Undercover footage that was taken in Peru in October, 2017, showed just how far people are prepared to go in order to capture sloths for the tourism trade. In the video, loggers can be seen deliberately cutting down a tree that is home to a sloth so they can abduct the animal. They then take it to a nearby market to sell for just a few dollars, so it can be displayed to tourists and be used as a prop in photographs. The loggers use the sloths to earn extra money on top of their standard timber operations, since the animals are so easy to capture thanks to their slow speed and the fact that they spend much of their lives in the same trees.

  • Elephants Are Stolen Away From Their Mothers As Babies

    Elephants Are Stolen Away From Their Mothers As Babies
    Photo: Maksym Kozlenko / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    One of the most popular animal tourism activities is to ride elephants in Thailand. It provides a great opportunity to get close to the huge animals and get selfies with them. However, most people are completely unaware of the traumatic lives that the elephants have experienced. They are usually taken from their mothers at an incredibly young age, often as babies, and then beaten or starved so that they develop an intense fear of humans. This helps to ensure that they remain submissive at all times but causes severe psychological harm.

  • Poachers Kill Slow Loris Mothers And Remove The Teeth Of Captured Ones

    Another popular animal for selfies is the slow loris. They are small, relatively harmless, and have a distinctive, yet cute, appearance that makes them very photogenic. The truth, though, is that these animals are endangered and should not be taken from their natural environments. What makes matters even worse is that poachers will often kill the mother when they capture baby slow lorises because they are so protective of their offspring. The animals will then have their teeth removed so that they can’t bite tourists, leading to infections and constant pain.

  • Tigers Are Drugged And Kept In Tiny Cages

    Arguably the most impressive animal selfies that people get while traveling in places such as Thailand is with a tiger. The sheer size and ferocity of these creatures means it would be impossible to get so close to them anywhere else but at a center dedicated to this type of activity. Unfortunately, the big cats are not well looked after. Reports in Thailand suggest that many of these, including the famous Tiger Temple, would drug the tigers to keep them docile. They would also be kept in small cages at night and physically assaulted by handlers if they did not obey orders correctly.

  • Alligators And Other Reptiles Are Essentially Being Tortured

    Alligators And Other Reptiles Are Essentially Being Tortured
    Photo: Lea Maimone / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    Other investigations in South America along the Amazon rainforest have also found that snakes and alligators are being kept in conditions that amount to torture. They are often housed in tiny cages that are sheltered in the dark. This stops the anacondas and caimans from being able to properly regulate their body temperature, as they are cold-blooded and need access to sunlight to do this. They are also often left without enough water to fully submerge and have their mouths tied shut permanently.