If you’re planning a gap year or a holiday and decide to travel across different parts of Asia, Africa or frankly any other continent that has wild animals, put your phones away, because these animals aren't interested in any of your selfies. In fact, you could be putting them in great danger.
With selfie culture on the rise, especially due to photo-based social media apps such as Facebook, Snapchat and of course, Instagram, and dating app profiles that require you to look interesting, caring, and well-traveled in one go, many people are turning towards snapping themselves with cute critters.
But, aside from how great you'll look on a phone screen, have you really considered what goes into making this scenario possible? That tiger your prospective hunk is hugging on Tinder? Yeah, it's overly sedated and probably has no teeth. That's not hot.
An investigation by World Animal Protection has revealed that eco-tourism companies are resorting to poaching wild animals – including sloths and crocodiles – to fulfill your profile pic dreams. The report reveals the investigators traveled to two tourist destinations in Latin America, Manaus in Brazil and Puerto Alegria in Peru, to see for themselves how the animals were suffering.
In an opinion piece for The Guardian, World Animal Protection CEO Steve Mclvor shed some light on what they found.
"Caiman crocodiles were seen stored in complete darkness in broken fridges – their mouths taped shut," he wrote. "These cold-blooded reptiles need sunlight and to be fully submerged in water. Instead, they are regularly yanked out of the fridges or dark polystyrene boxes to have their photos taken with tourists before they are returned to their painful solitary confinement."
According to the report's findings, "In Manaus, our investigation of 18 different tour companies revealed that the opportunity to hold and touch wild animals as photo props was offered on 94% of excursions. It was actively encouraged in 77% of them.”
It also shares that during their investigation in Peru Algeria, tourists could come into contact with the wild animals for photo opportunities for around $15.
“The team also discovered sloths are being poached from the wild to be used for selfies," Mclvor continued. "Each sloth is usually held by about five people within just a few minutes, causing them immense stress. Behind the scenes, they are tied to trees with rope and, tragically, rarely live to six months.”