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Instagram thinks your wild animal selfies are cruel & shitty

Step away from the sloth, Ellie

As new crops of gap yah-ers embark on their world tours every day, ecotourism continues to soar in popularity. You may think that sweet selfie with a sloth or a kinda-out-of-it tiger is cool and worthy of triple figure Instagram likes, but IG is coming for you.

Instagram announced this week that when users search for specific wildlife selfie hashtags (#tigerselfie), a pop-up will say: “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.”

Next, you have the option to either browse the posts or learn more about the exploitation of captive animals for entertainment. The Instagram Help Center is a spot to do some learning, and IG will direct you to the likes of TRAFFICWorld Wildlife Fund and World Animal Protection too. Users are encouraged to report any videos or photos they then see that violate community guidelines.

“The protection and safety of the natural world are important to us and our global community,” a statement from Instagram says. “We encourage everyone to be thoughtful about interactions with wild animals and the environment to help avoid exploitation.”

Wildlife experts helped Instagram collate particular hashtags under which animal exploitation could be prevalent: #exoticanimalforsale, #koalahugs, #lionselfie and more.

The ‘Wildlife Selfie Code’ campaign by World Animal Protection was a major influence on Instagram’s latest move – over 250,000 people signed to show support. 

“Many of the animals who tourists take photos with are stolen from their natural habitats. They are kept in cramped conditions and passed around from tourist to tourist, causing extreme stress,” a statement from World Animal Protection said. “We understand that most tourists who take wildlife selfies do so because they are animal lovers. This latest achievement is proof that we’re inspiring people to make the right choices for wild animals.”

As Gizmodo reports, a study by the Nature Conservation highlighted the serious problem of wildlife ecotourism – it’s illegal, harmful, emotionally traumatising and at times deadly for animals involved.

Maybe bypass that tiger sanctuary and duck out of exploiting animals for IG likes this trip!