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  • Staci-lee Sherwood

Animals are dying from selfie addicts

Updated: Sep 24


By Staci-lee Sherwood



It wasn’t that long ago that if a person wanted to take a photograph of a wild animal travel was involved along with long periods of quiet standing or sitting. This was no guarantee of a great photo just increased the chances of one. Back then photography was either an exciting career for the lucky few or an expensive hobby if you could afford it. The digital camera changed all that.



With the advent of digital cameras combined with the internet and photography software a new craze was born. Getting that NatGeo photo was still a challenge but many of the obstacles were gone. The digital era began and a new craze emerged called the selfie. Suddenly everyone with a camera wanted their picture taken. With digital cameras they could have it printed or downloaded in minutes, this created the phenomenon of the selfie addict. This trend may be new but over the past few years several articles and studies have been written warning of the negative impacts of selfies. The emotional toll the endless game of trying to one up each other can become dangerously stressful.



Over the years bizarre stories would tell a tale of people dying while attempting to take a selfie. Insanity seemed to grab hold as people would try to take a selfie while standing on the edge of a mountain or skydiving. Even worse was the seemingly endless competition to out do people they see online with more outrageous feats The selfie addict ignored some inherent danger with the risk taking. The inevitable followed involving selfies with animals. They now ventured out in search of that amazing shot that brings instant internet fame and that meant up close and personal.



Putting oneself at risk is one thing but to put an animal at risk of injury and death is another. On rare occasions the animals fight back which has been the case in Yellowstone National Park and their bison herds. While these gentle giants look docile, they can be more deadly than sharks when threatened. On more than one occasion a person has been gored by a bison who became aggressive toward a person getting too close. This has become so bad in the park they have put up extra warning signs. Accidents still occur due to people choosing to ignore the warning signs in search of that potential viral photo op.



Having been to Yellowstone several times I have seen countless tourists chasing after herds of bison. One time I witnessed a car chase between a driver of a small car in pursuit of a bison following the herd off road and on the grass. Finally the bison became so agitated he charged the car nearly destroying it. Watching from the sidelines were dozens of onlookers who cheered on the bison and gave no sympathy to the embarrassed driver. Park rangers were called in to escort this person and their car out of the park after fining them for harassing the animals. That was back in the 1990s and seems relatively tame compared to what animals now endure for photographs.



For animals in captivity such as a zoo or sanctuary one needs to ask if this animal is drugged or beaten into passivity. Even the most docile animals would never allow themselves to be held, hugged or kissed. If one is able to behave like this with a wild animal they have no relationship with ask yourself how is this really possible ? This goes against an animal’s very instinct to survive because their fight or flight is no longer an option. Most photos are easy to see the animals are drugged, many look barely alive. This is particularly true with the big cats, a favorite species for selfie addicts.



Dolphins, sharks and sea turtles are among the marine victims in the endless parade of animals taken from their habitat. After the selfie is taken many are just left to die. An infamous photo and story emerged from Argentina when a baby dolphin was passed around like a prop while throngs of people in the crowd touched and held him. After everyone got their picture the baby dolphin was left in the mud to die from shock and dehydration. The entire incident didn’t take very long but the horrific story went viral. The photo below shows the tragedy that could have been avoided if people stopped to think what pain their behavior caused.



Global outrage did not stop the trend. Social media promotes the craze with the promise of instant fame and encourages people to take risks they wouldn’t normally take to get more ‘likes’. Before the internet, abuse and harassment was rarely seen. Without a constant 24/7 audience and venue to deliver, wild animals were mostly left to professional photographers.

Tragedy in Macedonia when this woman tortured a swan by yanking him out of the water for a selfie. The shock and pain caused the swan’s death. This story went viral as a teaching moment.

Photo metro.co.uk



Celebrities need for attention and talk shows need for rating drive the cub petting industry. Most of the cubs live short lives in deplorable conditions. By six months the cubs are too big to handle and usually killed because they can’t be released into the wild and zoo’s have no room. It’s big business so zoos promote it. This isn’t conservation or education but simply exploitation. Click here to read more about the big cat trade https://www.realitycheckswithstacilee.com/post/inside-the-big-cat-trade-tiger-cub-petting-lion-meat-and-the-conservation-game


Wild animals drugged or chained, it’s clear what’s wrong with this picture

Photo Animals Asia



In the wake of this epidemic Instagram took steps to curb the abuse of animals for selfies. Searching #babytigers and a warning comes up about harm to animals for selfies. A step in the right direction hopefully will lead people to think about the consequences for the animals before taking that photo.



Before snapping away ask yourself what conditions does this animal live in that allows close contact with strangers for hours? Is the animal drugged or abused? If in the wild will your photo cause more people to emulate this causing possible injury and death to wild animals ? A better photo is one taken with a long lens that keeps both you and the animals safe. Think first how your actions might cause harm and how you wouldn’t want to be tossed around like a prop then left to die just for a photo.

Photo Daily Express



To learn more about selfies and wildlife click here

https://www.wired.com/story/selfies-screens-our-violent-love-wildlife/


https://www.animalsasia.org/us/media/news/news-archive/why-wild-animals-can-never-humanely-be-used-as-photo-props.html




Also published on Emagazine on February 14, 2022 https://emagazine.com/animals-are-dying-from-selfie-addicts/


And on Big cat rescue under News https://bigcatrescue.org/scoop/



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