Campaign to stop ‘animal selfies’ shows that animal lovers are causing cruelty
Nearly half the number of people who take ‘animal selfies’ with wild animals in tourist resorts do it because they love animals – despite the fact that the animals suffer extreme cruelty, according to a new survey.
More encouragingly, the survey by wildlife charities Care for the Wild International and Freeland showed that when people are informed about the suffering of the animals, the number of people saying they would have an ‘animal selfie’ dropped from four out of ten to less than one in ten.
‘Animal selfies’ – having a photo taken with a wild animal like a lion or tiger cub, slow loris or gibbon in tourist resorts like Phuket in Thailand or Cancun in Mexico is a popular tourist activity. Many tourists however do not realise that the animals have most likely endured a lot of suffering on their way to becoming a ‘photo-prop’.
Care for the Wild’s No Photos, Please! campaign in Thailand, carried out in conjunction with Freeland, has just completed a two month blitz on tourists from around the world in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, urging them not to get their ‘animal selfie’ for Facebook. With multilingual banners in Bangkok airport’s custom hall, the campaign has potentially been seen by millions of people.
Dominic Dyer, Policy Advisor for Care for the Wild which runs the RIGHT-tourism website offering tourists advice on being animal-friendly on holiday, said:
“Our campaign message was clear – ‘Smile – you’ve just killed my mum’. The animals used for these photos have generally been ripped from their families in the jungle, often leaving their mothers dead. They are declawed and have their teeth pulled out – no anaesthetic – so they aren’t dangerous. Then they will be kept in terrible conditions just so they can be paraded in tourist resorts for people who want a quick photo with an exotic animal. But one photo for a tourist means a lifetime of suffering for these poor animals.”
Surveys were taken among tourists at Bangkok airport and in Phuket and Pattaya before and after the campaign, which was carried out with the co-operation of the Royal Thai Police, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tourist Police and other government bodies. Key findings were:
• After seeing the poster, the number of people saying they would have a photo with a wild animal dropped from 41% to 8%
• The number who thought animals were harmed for photos rose from 40% to 51%
• 40% of those surveyed said they had had a photo taken with a wild animal
• 40% said they wanted a photo because ‘they love animals’. 30% wanted a photo for themselves or to share with friends and family
The campaign featured posters and banners in seven different languages at Bangkok airport, in the key tourist areas and in hotels. Surveys taken after the campaign had been running showed:
• A drop in the number of people saying they had had their photo taken with a wild animal from 40% to 20%
• 33% had seen the campaign
Freeland Executive Director and founder Steve Gaster said: “This survey reminds us that true love is selfless, not a selfie. Let these animals stay in the wild with their own loved ones. The photo business tears wild animal families apart.”
Dominic Dyer added: “We’re delighted with how this campaign went, because it showed that by simply getting the campaign message in front of people, we can stop them from having their photos taken with wild animals. It’s quite a simple message, because most people don’t want to harm animals – so when they know the truth, they won’t do it.
“The difficulty is of course reaching as many people as possible. The surveys we did were completed by people from 23 different countries – so that’s a lot of people, a lot of languages, and a lot of different attitudes and cultures. There’s a lot of work to be done if we’re going to stop this practice, but this has been a great start.”
For information on how to be animal-friendly in every country in the world, please use the Search on the RIGHT-tourism.org homepage.
Find out more about our No Photos, Please! Campaign