Across the world, tourists grab the chance to have their photograph taken with cute animals – from slow lorises in Thailand, to lion cubs in Cancun and monkeys in Marrakesh.
Many don’t realise, though, that these so-called ‘photo-prop’ animals are usually badly treated, abused, orphaned when they are babies, and discarded when they are less ‘cute’. This is why we have launched our new campaign, No Photos, Please!
What’s It All About?
Many of us will have come across ‘photo-prop’ animals while on holiday, and sometimes it can be hard to resist grabbing that Facebook photo or one for the album. Pop star Rihanna certainly couldn’t on a trip to Thailand recently, and the picture of her and a slow loris made the international news.
So what actually is the problem?
To focus on Thailand for a moment, a Slow Loris is an amazingly cute looking animal – but this cuteness is proving to be its downfall. Slow Lorises are in big demand for the pet trade, and Care for the Wild were heavily involved in getting them protected by law back in 2007.
However, they have now replaced gibbons as the key star of ‘photo-props’ in Thailand.
The reality of the photo prop industry is brutal. It is estimated that for every wild animal caught and sold for the photo prop or pet trade, fifty die in the process.
Young lorises are snatched from their mothers at a young age, their mothers are usually killed as they try to protect their babies.Traumatised and distressed, the young lorises are then transported in terrible conditions and kept in squalor until they are openly sold in ‘exotic animal’ marketplaces.
Their teeth are unceremoniously ripped out to stop them biting or injecting venom into their new owners who then parade them around busy bar areas, hotel lobbies, and beaches, enticing unwitting tourists for a ‘Facebook’ photo.
Slow and Silent
Lorises are nocturnal creatures, slow and silent in the wild. The bright neon bar lights damage their sensitive eyes – designed only for darkness, the loud music punishes their tiny ears, and the constant man-handling by tourists causes stress and anxiety – something that unfortunately makes the loris appear docile and relaxed, further encouraging misinformed tourists to take part in the photo activity.
What Are We Trying to Achieve?
The only thing that will stop animals being used in this way is money. So that means tourists must stop paying for photos.
Our campaign will try to target tourists at every key point in their journey to Thailand: media and airports in their home country (including the UK, Australia, Russia); on board flights; and at the destinations themselves, for example in hotels and hostels.
Are you able to help us alert tourists to this problem? Please tell us!
We will also be working with the government and other wildlife charities in the country, for example to provide sanctuaries for the abused animals.
But our key aim is this:
Stop the tourists, and you’ll Save the animals.
What Can I Do?
Remember our Three Terrible Tourism Truths:
1) Don’t be fooled by the ‘bond’ between owner and animal – the loris is purely an income driving tool, not a pet, and the industry is run by organised criminal gangs, not individuals.
2) Don’t be fooled into thinking that the loris is relaxed and happy – they have a defence mechanism that makes them freeze or extremely docile when under stress.
3) Don’t be fooled into thinking that one quick photo won’t hurt – it will. Each and every photo taken is keeping the industry alive.
- Read more about photo-prop animals here.
- Support our work with a donation – you can be assured your money will go to a very good cause.
- Copy and share our No Photos, Please! campaign posters with your friends, on social media, anywhere you can think of!