If you travel to Asia, chance is you’ll see cute animals, mostly baby animals, dressed in cute clothing with cute accessories and available for photos. Nobody denies that baby animals are so cute and adorable. Everyone would love to have their pictures taken with them and upload it to social media. Touching their tiny fluffy body is so hard to resist!
But who knows a single photo capture equals to miserable life for them? Want to know why? Let’s read more.
The easiest way to catch a baby is to kill its mother.
Most animals used as photo props are babies which are cute and photogenic. Where do the babies come from? If they tell you the animals are domestically bred, it’s likely a lie. Even though it were true, separating young babies from the mothers are distressing for both sides. Wildlife are prone to stress in captivity (except they have spacious enclosure and gets plenty of natural diet every day, which, in this case, is unlikely) and they can’t easily breed in a stressful condition. Most of the animals obtained for photo props are taken from the wild by killing their mothers. Once the animal grows, they are not as cute anymore and not so easy to handle anymore. Then what happens when they are adult? They probably kill the adult animals, or give them to a small zoo, or leave them in tiny dirty cages with minimum amount of food to keep them barely alive.
In order to entertain the tourists without hurting them, the animals used for photo props have gone through horrific and abusive process to tame them.
In addition to experiencing animal abuse, most of the times those animals have their weapons (read: body parts) removed. All animals have their special weapons and defense mechanisms. Lorises have poisonous bite. In order to avoid hurting the tourists, their teeth have to be removed, but removing a loris’ teeth takes a lot of effort and money for the drugs. The easiest way to prevent them from biting you is to clip their teeth, which cause the tooth root exposed to bacteria and leads to tooth root abscess.
For more aggressive animals, like tigers, lions, or bears, sedative drug is usually used to behave them, but it doesn’t prevent them from attacking tourist. Dangerous animals also have their claws removed so they won’t hurt the tourists, their gold mine. Imagine if a tourist gets hurt and spread the news, they won’t be able to earn money anymore.
Elephants are physically abused by sharp metal in order to control them. Baby elephants are not given enough food so they are starved and beg tourists for food. Never buy any food from their owners.
Enough about the animal’s life. Now let’s talk about your life. When you handle the animals, has it ever crossed your mind that wildlife can bring zoonotic disease and spread it to human? You never know what bacteria, virus, parasite, or fungi the animal is carrying. When you touch it, you get the microorganism, but you don’t wash your hand because you thought the animals were healthy. Congratulations, now you can infect anyone including yourself.
If you’re a foreigner/westerner, it’s not an excuse for you to take pictures with this exotic pet just because you don’t have it back at home. This kind of attitude is what exactly started wildlife exploitation in Asia.
Usually locals are not so interested with animals they can see every day and they do not want to pay high amount of money to do it. On the contrary, foreigners are willing to pay big sum of money to get this so called ‘once in a lifetime experience’. If you take your picture posing with animal and upload it, you are encouraging more people to do the same. More and more people are coming to do this wildlife exploitation tourist trap. More and more animals will be caught from the wild and treated badly by the owners.
Now you know the truth. Think twice before you take pictures with them and don’t contribute any money for them. Please be a smart traveler, unlike this embarassing Instagram user. First of all, it’s not a lemur. Second, they can’t suck your fingers without hurting you unless their teeth are removed.