While more and more people are starting to realize that taking photos with wild animals supports a cruel industry that separates babies from their moms, many people still haven’t gotten the memo. So in order to help spread the word that these seemingly innocent photos are actually perpetuating animal abuse, Instagram has implemented a new tool that will alert people whenever they might be searching for such photos.

The aim of the new notification system appears to be twofold: to warn people that it’s illegal to buy or sell wildlife on the app and to notify users about the harm that posing with wild animals can cause. For example, when we searched #TigerSelfie, a notification popped up on the screen, which reads, in part, “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.”

Instagram wild-animal photos

The pop-up includes a link to more information about being mindful of the environment, including the statement that “risking damage to the environment—whether it’s walking on wildflowers, moving a nest or carving initials—is never worth a few likes.”

And it encourages people to think twice about “liking” or posting wild-animal selfies: “[B]e wary when paying for photo opportunities with exotic animals, as these photos and videos may put endangered animals at risk.”

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Instagram implemented the new pop-up just five months after Tinder made a statement asking its users to take down their wild-animal selfies. Companies like Instagram and Tinder are taking a stand against wild-animal photos because they know about the suffering that goes on behind the scenes. More often than not, animals used for photo ops at tourist attractions were taken away from their distraught mothers as babies. They’re subjected to extreme stress and, often, physical abuse.

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Once some species, such as big cats, are no longer babies and have become too large and dangerous to use for pictures, their owners either ship them off to other roadside zoos or warehouse and neglect them.

Regardless of the stories that tourist traps might try to tell you, wild-animal photo ops have nothing to do with conservation. The animals offered up for selfies are bred for only one reason: to make their owners money.

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So now that you know the truth behind these pictures, what can you do? Never visit roadside zoos or other tourist attractions that offer wild-animal photo opportunities. Don’t “like” wild-animal selfies, and if you have these types of pictures on your Instagram account, take them down!

We all make mistakes, but we can learn from the past and move forward to help create a kinder world. ? ❤️ ?