Seeing people posing with wild animals isn't something that's new. Recently, a video went viral of a girl posing with a tiger laying on her back. Most people are shocked at how "well-trained" these wild animals are. However, it is less about how well-trained these animals are and more about how medicated they are.
People have been taking advantage of these medicated wild animals for a long time now. While traveling, people are often presented with the opportunity to take pictures with animals like lions, tigers, and hippos, as well as the opportunity to ride animals like elephants and camels.
The problem of people posing with these animals has gotten so bad that Tinder has issued a statement asking its users to remove any photos of them with animals from their pages.
So, how has the problem gotten as bad as it has?
Some people are simply ignorant about what is really going on. A lot of the places that offer these opportunities present themselves as zoos, so most people assume that this means that they treat the animals well. However, that is not the case. These "zoos" often medicate and sedate the animals to make them "safer" for people to be around and interact with.
These "zoos" keep prices low, and often promote false promises, like stating that they donate the money to charities that aid in the conservation efforts of tigers.
These "zoos" not only put the tigers that they own at risk, but they are putting all tigers at risk. There is this thing in the United States called the Species Survival Plan. It monitors the well-being of animals that are kept in captivity across the nation. It helps to monitor the way they are treated and ensures that nothing wrong is being done to them. Unfortunately, the tigers that are being kept in these sideshows are not a part of this plan, and thus not being monitored. This can affect the way plans are made in the future for the care of wild cats.
A similar situation happens with larger animals like elephants. This usually happens outside the United States, where elephants are naturally found. People can pay to ride elephants through the water, something that looks great online. However, elephants naturally don't let people ride them. These animals that people are allowed to ride have been tortured in order to make them submit to this act.
So, how can people avoid giving money to companies like these?
The first thing you can do is get informed. Before going to a place like this, make sure that they are following the law when it comes to protecting wild and endangered animals. If you find that there's a place near you that is exploiting their animals, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or even local police. Also, try lobbying in local and state government to try and get stricter restrictions to protect these wild animals and help to shut down the places that exploit them.