The Amazon rainforest is famous for its diverse wildlife, and the number of tourists who want to take selfies with its fascinating animals is rising fast.
Sadly, this has led to the exploitation of sloths, caimans, pink river dolphins, anacondas, and many more animals, who belong in the wild. With their gentle, slow nature, and facial markings that give the impression they’re always smiling, sloths have become one of the main targets for people looking to use them for profit.
Many people offering wildlife selfies in the Amazon search treetops for sloths to steal. These typically calm, gentle animals are snatched from their natural habitats, forced to live in noisy, chaotic environments, and repeatedly passed around from tourist to tourist.
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Most tourists who take photos with wildlife love animals. During once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations like the Amazon, it’s understandable they’d want to take a snap with a sloth for Facebook, or post a picture with a pink river dolphin on Instagram.
But if they knew about the suffering these animals endure for this type of photo opportunity, they’d put their phones and cameras away.
Amongst the 34 billion images posted by 700 million people on Instagram, our initial investigation shows there are tens of thousands of selfies on Instagram taken with wild animals. These photos capture a moment of shareable joy for people, but for many of them, the animals’ stress and suffering is left out of the frame.
Many people envy friends who post selfies of themselves hugging or holding wild animals, which sadly encourages more people to take their own photos.
As one of the largest social platforms, Instagram has a responsibility to help reduce animal suffering. Currently its community guidelines have no mention of animal welfare or animal cruelty, but you can help us change that.
We’ve been talking with Instagram about its animal protection-related policies. In our ongoing discussion, we’ll show the company just how many of you have signed our Wildlife Selfie Code, and urge it to do its part for wildlife.
Pledge now to help filter wildlife cruelty out of tourism, and make sure your voice is heard.