The reporter Natasha Daly traveled around the world to unveil the unworthy living conditions of captive wildlife in tourist areas.
A pure product of the tourism or are perhaps also social media to blame?
The adventures of Instagram celebrity and photographer Jay Alvarrez are followed by 6.5 million people. Stressed relaxed, as if his photo accessory is just a cute puppy, he posts a picture with a lion cub in his lap. Within hours he reaps over half a million likes and thousands of admiring comments in return.
The majority of his followers envy him for this special experience.
Instagram: Jay Alvarrez
What many of his fans do not want to know or admit, of course Alvarrez did not find the lion child in the wilderness. For this photo, he paid a lot of money to a company that has snatched the baby from his mother and henceforth exploits for tourist selfies. These animals are like the invisible slaves of the tourism industry.
The reporter Natasha Daly traveled the world for a year and a half for the well-known magazine NatGeo, to draw attention to the unworthy housing conditions of caged wildlife. What she found out touched hundreds of thousands in a big report.
In Thailand she saw Americans hugging tigers and Chinese brides riding young elephants for their wedding photo.
In Russia she saw how polar bears danced with wire muzzles under a circus tent, and in the Amazon she watched teenagers taking selfies with baby sloths.
A bear in Bulgaria, who is forced to dance to the amusement of the tourists. Photo: собственная работа.
“Most tourists who enjoy these encounters do not know or are not interested in the fact that, for example, the tigers have been drugged and are clawless. Or that their young animals are taken for tourist photos just a few days after birth.
That the baby sloths die after a few months in captivity or they can only ride the elephants because their will as babies was violently broken by the caregivers. ”
Long before the advent of social networks, pet owners made good money through tourist animal shows – under extremely poor housing conditions.
Tourists already wanted to be photographed with a giant python and were astonished how elephants can stand on one leg in animal shows or let balloons burst accurately.
All to the delight of the organizers, who this animal show tourism flushed a lot of money in the cash.
Violent elephant training at the American Circus Ringling Bros. Photo: PETA
Today, in an age in which the digital display of his experiences is treated as a social currency, it is increasingly becoming a big problem. The tourists accept the poor living conditions of the animals for a photo that potentially increases their popularity online. Photos posted by the French influencer Mathilde Tantot – in Thailand, half-naked with an captive elephant – unfortunately are uncountable. All with the goal of generating a lot of attention and therefore more followers.
As a social network with a billion users, Instagram has a huge responsibility towards its most popular photo opportunities – whether those through the Instagram tourism run dirty resorts or the suffering baby sloths.
After several years of criticism, the platform has responded to calls from numerous petitions by reputable wildlife organizations to finally tackle its known animal cruelty issue.
There are already hundreds of thousands of photos under various hashtags that are related to animal cruelty and were available to the general public for the longest time.
At the end of 2017, the platform finally worked against it.
As soon as the user wants to call one of the hashtags, this warning will stop them. For example, animal welfare organizations like World Wildlife Fund and World Animal Protection and National Geographic worked with Instagram for months on a long list of hashtags – such as #tigerselfie, #elephantride, #selfiesafari – which are now closed.
If users click on “Learn More”, they will be redirected to the site on Wildlife Exploitation on Instagram.com for more information.
Instagram spokeswoman Emily Cain told National Geographic that she wanted users to be more aware of animals and nature.
“I think it’s important to the community right now to be more aware. “We’re trying to do our part to educate them”.
The comprehensive offer for tourists in foreign countries to visit animal shows, to go swimming with wild animals or to make selfies with the chained animals is almost normal for travelers. Often these facilities present themselves with the slogans “Conservation”, “Refuge” and “Rescue”, which is intended to simulate the intention to ensure the protection of the animals.
Everyone should ask themselves, what kind of “nature conservation” elephants are these, when one is allowed to ride on them.
Cassandra Koenen, Head of Wildlife Campaigns bei World Animal Protection:
„Even if the cruelty isn’t right in front of you, [there’s] cruelty that’s behind the scenes to get to that point“
My comment: Certainly the warning Instagrams will sensitize some people to the conservation of species and nature.
However, it can not be expected to reach those who know exactly what they are doing.
And first and foremost they are the mindless ignorant, the indifferent travelers who are driven by their hysterical addiction to exoticism and adventure, and therefore would even ride on animal corpses.
Most people know what’s behind it.
But as with the suffering and torture of the farm animals, they are interested in a shit about it.
The hope of restricting trafficking on the endangered species platform is also low, as it is mostly unscrupulous businessmen who then seek other ways.
But still: we see this as a good and, above all, important step in the right direction.
My best regards to all, Venus