Costa Rica launched on Friday a campaign to discourage visitors to the country from taking selfies with wild animals, the Ministry of Environment and Energy announced.
“We want to prevent visitors from feeding (animals), from capturing them for photos and from manipulating them,” said the vice minister of the branch, Pamela Castillo, while publicizing the campaign.
Many local and foreign tourists visit Costa Rica’s national parks in search of monkeys, sloths, toucans and other wildlife.
Given this, the Central American country became the first in the world to launch a national campaign against “cruel or inappropriate selfies with wild animals,” a ministry statement said.
According to Castillo, animal selfies can cause “stress and suffering” for the wildlife and even put tourists at risk. That motivated the sustainable tourism campaign, called “Stop animal Selfies” (#stopanimalselfies), or paren los selfies con animales in Spanish.
The ministry cited a study from the World Animal Protection organization which found Costa Rica is the country where the seventh-most “inappropriate” wildlife photos are taken.
“The environmental and tourism sector come together to stop this practice and be an example in the world, motivating to avoid direct contact and selfies with wild animals in captivity or in their natural habitat when there is human manipulation,” MINAE said.
Government surveys indicate that about 40% of foreign tourists visiting Costa Rica seek to experience the country’s flora and fauna. More than a quarter of Costa Rica’s land is protected in national parks, wildlife refuges and reserves.
Still want a picture? At Costa Rica’s airports and popular tourist sites, environmental and tourism authorities have placed stuffed animals as a guilt-free selfie alternative.