Spotlight - This time we're shining the light on...

By Haus of Conservation, Jul 31 2020 01:20PM

“Are you ready for your close up?”

What is the Selfish Selfie? It’s that close up photo of a person with an animal in captivity or the wild… This is a growing trend and is seen all over social media on peoples Facebook profiles, Instagram, dating profiles, twitter and many more…

The Selfish Selfie is the exploitation of animals, in fact the animal in the picture ends up being treated more as a prop more than a living being. Often the animals are taken away from their mother just a few days after birth so they can be molded in to the perfect “prop” for your photo opportunity. The animals that resist or maybe more challenging often have violence inflicted on them so they go into submission. Once their spirit is broken and they are compliant the result is a perfect poster pin up for your social media or photo scrap book. We have broken the selfish selfie down into three categories to get a better understanding of this issue:

1. Selfish Selfie with animals in captivity.

2. Selfish Selfie with exotic pets.

3. Selfish Selfie with animals in the wild.

So which animals are used for Selfish Selfies? The reality is this can happen with any animal and anywhere (particularly in captivity) but the most common types are: tigers, lions, big cats and their cubs, elephants, dolphins, parrots, birds of prey, smaller monkeys, snakes, lizards, crocodiles, otters, koalas and many more…

How does the Selfish Selfie affect the animal? It does not take the animals welfare into account, only seeing the animal as a money-making opportunity used for advertisement and social status. The animal becomes a prop and is forced to pose with cash paying visitors for prolonged periods of time or until the que of paying customers has gone. Imagine being touched or squeezed all day by different strangers and hearing cameras clicking and being blinded by flashing lights… So when your told the animals don’t mind and it doesn’t harm them, just think it about it… is the jungle or the natural habitat of that particular animal filled with cameras, visitors and are they confined to one spot being touched and photographed all day… NO! In fact many animals used in Selfish Selfies are drugged and doped to be able to stay in that one place or be handed about for hours on end. Some animals are even prodded with sticks or violence inflicted on them so they behave and stay still, while other animals have food denied so they can work for it as reward if they endure the Selfish Selfie photos. The Selfish Selfie only creates stress, anxiety, depression and ailments for the animal involved which often shortens their life span.

Let’s zoom in and look at the three types of Selfish Selfie in more detail:

Animals in captivity Selfish Selfie: Animals in captivity are often used for these photographic opportunities which result in financial gain for the establishment. The types of venues that may promote animal selfies are: zoo’s, fake sanctuary’s, tiger temples, elephant parks and attractions, marine parks, mobile zoo’s, falconry, farms, open markets, circuses, holiday companies that offer animal experiences, tourist attractions and many more. Every Selfish Selfie that is taken and then posted to social media is free advertisement for the establishment and encourages more people to engage in these types of photos and venues.

The exotic pet Selfish Selfie: This type of selfie is where someone may have a photo taken with another person’s exotic pet i.e. a snake, monkey, slow loris, cheetah etc… harmless right? After all it’s a pet… Well think again, because these types of photos promote the exotic pet trade which is a conservation issue in its self. So when people see that person cuddling a cheetah or walking the cheetah on a lead on social media it promotes the “I want to do that”, “I want a pet cheetah” which builds more demand, so then another cheetah or whatever exotic animal species it maybe is taken from the wild to supply the rising demand. This is for breeding from or to directly go into the exotic pet trade which is increasing because its aided by the promotion of Selfish Selfies all over social media.

Animals in the wild Selfish Selfie: When people take close up selfies with wildlife where the person has captured, restricted, baited it with food or compromised the animal for the photo this is for no other reason than pure vanity which is also cruel, again when the photo is shared it promotes more of this behavior. The only wildlife selfies we should be taking is of the animal wild, free and in the distance where the animal is not compromised and the person is not in any danger either.

So it’s not just a photo after all…”

Can any selfie with animals be good? Yes if done correctly, but the question you need to ask yourself is do you really need to… Isn’t it better to show wildlife wild and free…

But if you feel you need to be in the photo here’s how to do it correctly:

1. Never have selfies taken with animals in captivity (zoos, parks, markets or fake sanctuaries or any other establishment) even if it’s free.

2. Never have photos taken with exotic pets, even if they are the pets of your friends, this will only promote the exotic pet trade even more which is decimating the wild.

3. Wildlife Selfies: only take a photo if the animal is wild and free, in the distance and you are safe doing so. Never capture, restrict, bait with food, compromise the animal or put yourself in danger.

“Capture me from my good side…”

How can you prevent Selfish Selfies:

• Simply don’t take the photo or participate in Selfish Selfies.

• Do not like, comment on or praise a Selfish Selfie on social media, even if your idol is in the photo.

• When you are a tourist do not support any venue or animal handler offering this type of experience. Do your research before booking any animal experience or sanctuary to make sure it is legit. Think, use your common sense and ask yourself “is this good for the animals wellbeing?”.

• Treat animals in the same way you expect to be treated, with kindness & respect.

• Share this information with as many people as you can, education and awareness are key. Some people will be taking these photos and not realising the harm they are doing.

• Only take photos of animals in the wild and free, show the change you want see so the world actually becomes it…

So now you know all about the Selfish Selfie... when your next on social media be aware and see how many Selfish Selfies you can spot…

“Think before you strike a pose”

Click on the links below to see a few of the news articles demonstrating the “Selfish Selfie”:

The Selfish Selfie

Captive Selfie

Wildlife Selfie

Selfish Selfies Are Cruel

For more information on this and to join the Selfie Code campaign by World Animal Protection click the link below:

Selfie Code

Thank you for reading and sharing.

Haus of Conservation

Selfish Selfies: The above photo shows nothing but cruelty...
Selfish Selfies: The above photo shows nothing but cruelty...
Do's & Don'ts - courtesy of slothconservation.com
Do's & Don'ts - courtesy of slothconservation.com

Be kind to: animals, the planet, one another and yourself...