For whatever reason, compassion seems to be one thing that many tourists forget to take with them on vacation.
This is evident in a video that has gone viral of an orangutan being forced to pose for photos with tourists. The orangutan, dressed in a pair of pants, is shown submissively altering his posture to the vocal commands and prompts of an off-camera trainer.
What the tourists fail to acknowledge is the cruelty behind the camera. In order to force captive animals to perform on cue, trainers often “break their spirits” by beating them into submission. The “smile” that great apes are well-known for, like the one flashed by the orangutan in the video, isn’t a joyous expression at all. It’s a grimace of terror, anxiety, and submission. Most likely, this orangutan is fearful of what will happen if he fails to perform on cue.
“Orangutans are shy, sensitive, highly intelligent, and socially complex animals—not props or objects of ridicule. When they’re seen posing or performing, it’s because they’re afraid of what might happen if they don’t ‘behave,'” says PETA U.K. Director Elisa Allen. “Commonly, their spirits have been broken and they’ve learned to obey through deprivation, fear, and physical punishment. Most of the animals abused at these tacky tourist traps were torn away from their mothers within days or weeks of birth—a separation that is traumatic for both mother and baby.”
This orangutan is one victim in the huge business of tourism-related cruelty. In one study, researchers estimated that more than half a million exotic animals worldwide are enslaved by the tourism industry.
Using animals for selfie props torments and often kills them. No animals want to pose for a photo—they want to live out their life in the wild.
Stop Cruelty Abroad
Orangutans are critically endangered, and their use for entertainment fuels the illegal “pet” trade. In this day and age, with all that we know about animals, it’s totally unacceptable for tourists to support such exploitation. People who pay for novelty photos with animals are complicit in perpetuating cruelty, and PETA urges them to say “no.”