The world’s iconic animals are suffering over selfies

(File) More than 40 percent of the snaps involved humans “hugging or inappropriately interacting with a wild animal.” Source: Shutterstock

The selfie craze among tourists is fueling cruel treatment towards the world’s most iconic animals, a report said.

The World Animal Protection report released on Tuesday said Instagram had seen a 292-percent increase in wildlife selfies over the last three years around the world.

More than 40 percent of the snaps involved humans “hugging or inappropriately interacting with a wild animal.”

In conjunction with World Animal Day which fell on Oct 4, the animal rights organisation launched its Wildlife Selfie Code to inspire tourists to take cruelty-free photos with wild animals, without fueling the wildlife entertainment trade.

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“A once-in-a-lifetime selfie can mean a lifetime of misery for a wild animal. Tourists care about animals and most aren’t aware of the cruel industry they are fueling,” the group’s chief executive officer Steve McIvor said in a statement.

“Behind the lens, animals are being snatched from the wild and abused. Some of the species involved are threatened by extinction and many are protected by law. We are calling on relevant governments to enforce the law and travel companies and tourists to abide by them.”

The report was based on findings that focused on two Latin American cities of the Amazon: Manaus, Brazil and Puerto Alegria, Peru.

The group’s investigation revealed that animals are being taken from the wild, often illegally. They’re then exploited and injured by irresponsible tour operators to entertain and provide harmful photo opportunities for tourists.

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The group found the exploitation of sloths, caiman, anacondas and more, who are used for tourist selfies across the continent.

The report also said people will most likely upload a “good” wildlife selfie when they have been educated or exposed to the cruelty behind the scenes.