The Amazon rainforest is famous for its diverse wildlife. And the number of tourists who want to take selfies with these fascinating animals is rising fast.
Sadly, this has led to the exploitation of sloths, caimans, pink river dolphins, anacondas, and many more animals, who belong in the wild. With their gentle, slow nature, and facial markings that give the impression they’re always smiling, sloths have become one of the main targets for people looking to use them for profit.
Many people offering wildlife selfies in the Amazon search treetops for sloths to steal. These typically calm, gentle animals are snatched from their natural habitats, forced to live in noisy, chaotic environments, and repeatedly passed around from tourist to tourist.
Most tourists who take photos with wildlife love animals. During once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations like the Amazon, it’s understandable that they’d want to take a snap with a sloth for Facebook, or post a picture with a pink river dolphin on Instagram.
But if they knew about the suffering these animals endure for this type of photo opportunity, they’d put their phones and cameras away.
Amongst the 34 billion images posted by millions of people on Instagram, our initial investigation showed there were tens of thousands of selfies on Instagram taken with wild animals. These photos capture a moment of shareable joy for people, but for many of them, the animals’ stress and suffering are left out of the frame.
Many people envy friends who post selfies of themselves hugging or holding wild animals, which sadly encourages more people to take their own photos. This continues the ongoing suffering and cruelty for wildlife.
Together we moved Instagram
In December 2017, our Wildlife Selfie Code campaign was so successful that it influenced Instagram, one of the biggest social media sites, to educate its users around the suffering wildlife selfies can cause to animals.
With over 250,000 sign ups to our Wildlife Selfie Code, this moved Instagram to launch a new 'content advisory page', to educate users about the issues these photos cause for wild animals. Now, when any of Instagram’s 800 million users search hashtags like #koalaselfie and #slothselfie, which could be associated with harmful interactions with animals, they are warned about the dangers of this trend.
Together we have moved Instagram. Together we’re filtering cruelty out of more pictures every day.