Have you ever been travelling and been asked by a local, “Do you want to take a photo with an animal for a small fee?” Maybe you were staying in an all-inclusive resort and took a photo with a parrot, or perhaps you were hiking in Australia and got a photo holding a koala.
In many places, taking photos with animals is a lucrative business, especially in areas with a lot of tourism. But, have you ever thought about how those animals end up in the “selfie-taking business” in the first place, or how high their quality of living could be?
These animals are often kidnapped from their homes and forced to take photos with tourists all day instead of living in their natural habitats. They’re rarely released back into the wild after a long day of hard work, but rather they’re kept in confined, dark spaces, forced to spend their lives with a bunch of tourists.
Video of Sloth Being Kidnapped for Tourist Photos
World Animal Protection recently released a video of a sloth being stolen from his natural habitat and kidnapped for tourist photos in Iquitos, Peru. The video shows the sloth in a tree, which is then cut down so its kidnappers can steal it.
The sloth actually clings to the tree as it’s being cut down, not letting go even though it’s starting to fall. Interestingly enough, male sloths usually stay in the same tree for the entire duration of their lives!
The sloth is then rough-handled, stuffed into a small black bag, and transported to its new life in tourism.
“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,” World Animal Protection CEO Steve McIvor said in a statement.
“It is ludicrous that this is to fuel the wildlife selfie craze which has become a worldwide phenomenon. This industry is fuelled by tourists, many of whom love animals and are unaware of the terrible treatment and abhorrent conditions wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo.”
You can check out the full video below:
The people featured in the video are illegal loggers. Approximately 80% of Peruvian timber exports can be attributed to illegal logging, and many of the loggers involved with this will kidnap and sell animals for a little extra money. Sloths are often their animals of choice because they’re so slow and thus easier to catch.
World Animal Protection is encouraging people to stop taking photos with animals if they involve hugging/holding/restraining them, if the animal is being “baited” with food, if the animal could harm you, or if the animal is outside of its natural habitat.
Although it may seem like common sense not to harm animals or take photos with them outside of their natural habitat to some people, many of us simply don’t think about the animals we’re taking selfies with. We can get so excited and wrapped up in the moment that we don’t think about how our actions affect others, particularly the animals involved with these tourist attractions.
The next time you’re considering visiting an attraction that involves animals, think about the quality of living those animals likely endure. Are they trapped in a confined cage, or stolen from their natural habitats? Remember, you vote with your dollar, so only spend money on what you truly want to support!
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