If You’re Touching a Wild Animal, Something’s Wrong

Stories like this recent one fromĀ The Guardian drive me nuts. The article describes the practice of providing wild animals for tourists’ selfies in the Amazon, and what drives me crazy about the whole thing is that the industry preys, not only on the hapless, half-drugged, beaten-up animals (though that’s bad enough), but also on the tourists.

The terrible thing is that pretty much the entire demographic who would ever get this far into the Amazon in the first place has at least some interest in wildlife or the wouldn’t be there at all. They would be horrified to know that they’re an excuse to brutalize all the fabulous creatures they just traveled so far to see. It’s a classic case of miscommunication: the tourists come for the animals, and end up seeing some pitiful, beaten-up but phone-ready version of what they came for, and go home thinking that that’s what there was to see.

Just a note to travelers everywhere: if you’re ever in a place where you can touch a wild animal for any reason (petting them, riding them, etc.), be very alert. There’s a very high chance that, somewhere in the background, and supposedly for your benefit, this animal is being mistreated.


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