Instagram cracks down on wild animal selfies

Instagram acts to stop animal cruelty

Instagram acts to stop animal cruelty

Sloth selfies on Instagram - typically brokered by locals in tourist traps like Costa Rica - exploded by almost 300 percent this year since 2014, according to World Animal Protection.

WAP chief executive Steve McIvor said: "We congratulate Instagram on taking this important step towards educating its users about wild animals that are suffering for selfies". More than 3,000 posts with #koalaselfie already exist on the platform, but Instagram won't be banning the photos.

To raise awareness on this issue WAP has collaborated with Instagram to ensure users searching for terms like #slothselfie or #lionselfie will be presented with a warning. "Be wary when paying for photo opportunities with exotic animals, as these photos and videos may put endangered animals at risk".

But Instagram is cracking down on the trend after warnings that the animals subjected to photoshoots are the victims of cruelty.

Many of them are illegally taken from the wild or away from their mothers to serve as selfie bait for tourists, and are often kept in appalling conditions.

Wildlife selfies on social media is a growing phenomenon.

Instagram also has policed content for other topics including suicide, self-harm and eating disorders.

While humans taking pictures with exotic animals is far from a recent phenomenon, there's no denying the rise of social media has brought the practice to a new, much wider audience.

Fiercer beasts such as tigers and lions often are de-clawed and have their teeth removed or dulled to make them less of a threat to Instagram-happy tourists, says Crawford Allan of the World Wildlife Fund.

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