To fulfill the ever-increasing desire for selfies, tourists are illegally removing animals from their habitats in South America to the detriment of many species, an animal protection agency says.
Manaus, Brazil, and Puerto Alegria, Peru, are two places where threatened species are used as props for selfies “to please tourists,” World Animal Protection says, harming their natural habitats.
WAP says the animals, such as sloths, toucans and anteaters, are then “neglected, mishandled, abused” and kept in horrible conditions.
An investigation found evidence of sloths being tied for photos, manatees stuffed in tiny tanks and anacondas injured and dehydrated. Many animals, effectively stolen from their habitats, were kept in barren cages.
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The abuse directly correlates with a universal increase in social media activity, says the organization.
“The wildlife selfie craze is a worldwide phenomenon fueled by tourists, many of whom are unaware of the abhorrent conditions and terrible treatment wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo,” Steve McIvor, CEO at World Animal Protection, said in a statement. “Behind the scenes, wild animals are being taken from their mothers as babies and secretly kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food, causing severe psychological trauma.”