The real cost of a tiger selfie
One quick holiday snap can mean a lifetime of suffering for tigers.
To many people, taking a photograph up close and personal with the world’s biggest cats must seem like an unbelievable experience. But those ‘amazing’ tiger selfies often conceal a long history of suffering and fuel demand for poaching of these beautiful, endangered animals.
Though abusive tiger tourism in Thailand has been big news recently, the suffering of tigers for the sake of tourist entertainment is not just limited to South East Asia, and even occurs in America.
Tigers at tourist venues may be taken directly from the wild, or bred into industrial tiger farms and transported to their new home. Either way, this is no life for a wild animal that ought to be in its natural habitat.
Why would a tiger let you get so close?
At just a few weeks old, young captive tiger cubs may be torn away from their mothers as their working life begins. By comparison, cubs in the wild usually stay with their mothers for around two years. The young tigers then undergo training which is often strict and cruel.
This story is all too common in the animal entertainment industry.
The life of a tiger stuck in an entertainment venue can be extremely bleak – subject to relentless photos during their working day, they will often spend their rest-time chained up or in a confined space shared with other tigers.
The opportunity to bottle feed a young tiger cub is quite popular with tourists, and so many cubs will be handled dozens of times a day, just to get that perfect photo.
This exploitation not only spells misery for captive animals, it also fuels the poaching and trade of endangered wild tigers. In many areas, captive tiger numbers are increasing.
What happens next?
As tigers grow older, they become more difficult to handle, and it is unclear what becomes of older tigers once they become unmanageable. They may be killed, or sold to roadside menageries – collections of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.
There is a lack of transparency in the animal entertainment world. There is little reporting on the future of animals once they've left the entertainment industry. It can be difficult to know whether cruelty, poaching or even the illegal trade of wild animals for body parts is taking part behind the scenes.
The only way to be sure that your holiday isn't causing a lifetime of suffering for tigers is to steer clear of tiger tourism full-stop.
Whatever venues may claim about conservation, the simple truth is that these animals belong in the wild.
What you can do to help tigers and other wild animals?
We can help stop the wildlife trade by not buying wild animals as pets and by not supporting the cruel wild animal tourism industry.
Wild animals don’t belong to us. They belong in the wild. Take action to protect wild animals now.