Target: Tourists in foreign countries
Goal: Stop tourists from taking “selfies” with wild animals, which encourages poaching
Many tourist attractions in Asian countries allow tourists to take pictures–or selfies–with exotic and threatened species, with the encouragement that these actions are cute and adorable. However, many tourists do not realize that merely snapping a photo puts an entire species at risk. If there is a high demand for these pictures, poachers are more inclined to seize these animals from their natural habitat, lowering their chances for survival. All tourists who go to these photo stops should refrain from taking pictures with these threatened animals.
Tigers, monkeys, slow lorises: all of these animals have been used in Asian countries to attract tourists to take pictures. These ‘attractions’ have had their claws and teeth removed so they don’t pose a threat to their owners or the tourists. Many of these animals are babies, young enough to be called cute and adorable, but when they grow older, these animals are often disposed of because they cannot make their owners any money. Dangerous animals, such as tigers, can still be kept but it places the lives of their caretakers and visitors at risk of being mauled to death. Tiger Temple in Thailand has had at least 60 incidents of tigers attacking either volunteers or tourists in a year.
Remember that these animals have been taken from their natural habitat to make a profit for their owners. By removing them from the environment, it harms the ecosystem and the environment as a whole. As a tourist, you should be looking be looking for signs of abuse. Have the claws and teeth of the animal been removed? Are they in a cramped cage? Are they being adequately fed and watered? And what does the owner do when the animals are no longer young and cute?
Unfortunately, these tourist attractions don’t just exist in Asian countries, but also in Mexico and other parts of Europe. Lions and their cubs are often allowed to be petted, and tourists are encouraged to take pictures with them. These organizations will often call themselves sanctuaries, but in 2013, the Association for British Travel Agents stated that photographing an animal and a visitor in a sanctuary is deemed animal exploitation. If you are traveling to a foreign country, refrain from taking pictures with animals, as it is harming not just them, but their entire species.
Dear Tourists in foreign countries,
I am writing to urge all tourists not to take pictures with threatened animals in a foreign country. Please realize that these animals have been taken from their natural habitat to make money for their owners. Many of these animals are abused, shackled, then thrown away when they are no longer cute or young.
You are participating in this cycle of abuse by taking photos with these animals. You can stop the cruelty by simply refusing to take pictures or pet the animals. Know that a good sanctuary will not let tourists touch or take pictures of these animals, and instead advocate for these animals to be looked at from a distance, and educate visitors about their species.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: J. Patrick Fischer via Wikimedia Commons