Despite being banned in the country more than 10 years ago, travelers to Costa Rica continue in large numbers to take selfies with wildlife anyway. For such, the country with more than 5% of the world’s biodiversity and one of the countries with the greatest biological wealth, has launched a campaign asking travelers not to take wildlife selfies.

Image from Twitter

Selfies and photographs in direct contact with wild animals are causing great damage to this biodiversity, and it is aiming to become the first country to regulate the incidence of selfies involving wild animals.

Wildlife in Costa Rica is a public domain property and thus protected. According to Pamela Castillo, vice-minister of environment and energy, direct contact with wild animals represents a risk to people and generates stress and suffering to the fauna.

“Animals can also carry illnesses or get sick by pathogens transmitted by human beings,” she says. “For these reasons, it is necessary to keep a safe distance when they are seen in their natural habitat or sanctuaries and respect their natural behavior.”

Image from Twitter

The #stopanimalselfies initiative is asking visitors to refrain from offering food to wild animals and trying to capture them.

Andrea Smith, writes on the Lonely Planet,  “They should not make loud noises or throw objects to animals in sanctuaries or rescue centers to try to get their attention, and should also never touch, grab or hold an animal. The campaign wants to raise awareness about the negative impacts of selfies and photographs that show direct contact with wild animals, and it seeks to reduce these cruel behaviors and warn of the possible risks involved.”

The Humane Society International said, “We applaud Costa Rica’s efforts to ensure the protection, ethical management and welfare of wild animals by avoiding promoting practices that are cruel to animals, since they do not respect their natural behaviors and promote a mercantilist and utilitarian vision.”

World Animal Protection

A better practice, under the Wildlife Selfie Code, is to keep a safe distance from all wildlife. Permit the animals to remain untouched in their natural habitat. Avoid making loud noises. Especially avoid throwing objects at them to get their attention, and never touch, grab or hold an animal for a selfie.

Maria Revelo, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism, further explained, “The campaign has the objective of generating conscience about the adequate treatment that a sustainable tourism destination must guarantee to its wild animals and to those that get close to them as tourists. #StopAnimalSelfies has the support of the Costa Rican Tourism Board (ICT) due to its contribution it makes to the country’s model of sustainable tourism development.”

To spotlight animal rights, promote wildlife safety and minimize animal selfies, Costa Rican authorities instead recommend taking photos with a stuffed toy.

The DO:

  • Stay at a safe distance from the animal.
  • Carry out a silent, respectful observation.
  • Respect the animal’s natural behaviors.
  • Refrain from entering cages or enclosures, as these provide a barrier that protects me from direct contact with the animal.

The DON’T:

  • Touch, grab or hug the animal.
  • Offer the animal food.
  • Attempt to catch or chase the animal to be closer to it or have direct contact.
  • Make noises, whistle, throw objects or knock on the barrier to have the animal move or wake up.

Join today the #stopanimalselfie campaign, a global action to bring cruel selfies to an end and to support the preservation of wild fauna.