Instagram Just Took A Stand Against Wild Animal Selfies


Social media website Instagram, owned by Facebook, has put out a warning to users putting up and searching for selfies and photos with wild animals, reminding them that such pictures help fuel animal trafficking.


making new friends #lionselfie

A post shared by dani_detrude (@dani_detrude) on


"Animal abuse [… is] not allowed on Instagram"


From Monday December 4, if you try to publish or search for photos with a hashtag implying that you're with a wild animal (#koalaselfie or #lionselfie, for example), you will be taken to a page with the following message:


Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram. You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.


#KoalaSelfie ??

A post shared by Paris Hilton (@parishilton) on


"Starting today, when a person searches for a hashtag associated with harmful behavior to animals or the environment, they will see a content advisory screen […] The protection and safety of the natural world are important to us and our global community. We encourage everyone to be thoughtful about interactions with wild animals and the environment to help avoid exploitation and to report any photos and videos you may see that may violate our community guidelines," said a statement released by Instagram on Monday.


Paris Hilton was one of the first celebrities to be hit by the message after posting a selfie with a koala during a trip to Australia.



Selfies at zoos


Unethical zoos have thrived off of extra income brought in by people who want to touch and cuddle wild animals for decades, and the popularity of social media hasn't helped since now some people see it as an opportunity to show off online.


Zoos which sell animal photo opportunities are mainly found in Asia and South America, although there are many in the U.S. too. One notorious example, Lujan Zoo, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attracted controversy recently after animal activists claimed that they were drugging big cats to make them docile enough to take pictures with.


Un lion possiblement drogué au zoo de lujan


Earlier this year, dating app Tinder also took a stand against taking photos with wild animals. "It’s time for the tiger selfies to go. More often than not, these photos take advantage of beautiful creatures that have been torn from their natural environment. Wild animals deserve to live in the wild," the company said in a blog post.


These platforms' efforts to put a stop to these "selfies" are drawing more attention to this widely accepted form of animal abuse. However, there are still many more popular tourist attractions that people flock to every year, such as elephant back riding, despite the harm they cause to animals.


An organization called World Animal Protection International has set out guidelines for when wildlife photography is acceptable. They read:


DON’T take a wildlife selfie if:

  • I’m being held, hugged, or restrained
  • You’re baiting me with food
  • I could harm you

DO take a wildlife selfie if:

  • You keep a safe distance from me
  • I’m in my natural home
  • I’m free to move, and not captive


To learn more about how tourism affects animal trafficking, visit World Wildlife FundTRAFFIC and World Animal Protection.


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