Photos are great, animal abuse and death is not

Tia Kutschera Fox, Contributor

Selfies, short for self-portraits, and self-culture are often touted as a product of an entitled, shallow and narcissistic generation. But documenting oneself is hardly a new phenomenon and has been around for centuries. Rather than taking a few extra minutes after getting dressed to snap some pics or pose at the gym, our ancestors spent hours and weeks painting themselves on a canvas and displaying it in their house or even trying to sell it. The urges are essentially the same. We want to be admired, we want to be remembered and we want something of ourselves to remain after we are gone. Yes, some people who snap selfies are narcissistic, but there have been narcissists since the dawn of humanity so it’s not much of a point.

There isn’t anything inherently bad about taking selfies. The problem is when others get hurt at the expense of a selfie. Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing issue. On March 9, a woman named Leanne (last name not disclosed) climbed over a clearly labelled safety barrier at a public zoo to “get some good pictures” of a jaguar. To the surprise of literally no one, the wild animal attacked her through the enclosure when she had come within reaching distance. She was lucky that another zoo-goer had the quick thinking to throw her water bottle in the enclosure to distract the Jaguar and Leanne survived. She did also eventually, rightfully, apologize publicly and acknowledged she was at fault and thankfully the jaguar was not euthanized. But the part that really gets into entitled culture is when in her apology she said the barrier needs to be further from the enclosure. The reasoning behind this is unclear. Is this so other assholes who climb the clearly labelled “DO NOT CLIMB” barrier take longer to get close to the enclosure and get mauled? Because for the rest of boundary-respecting unentitled adults, the barriers worked perfectly fine. She acted like it was an accident, not her own choices and actions that led to her own dumbass getting injured.

If the jaguar had been euthanized it wouldn’t have been the first time an animal had to die for a selfie. In August 2017, a baby dolphin got separated from its mother and was stranded in shallows at a Spanish beach. Hundreds of tourists crowded around the stressed baby, stroking it and taking selfies. By the time animal rescue was notified and came to help, the calf was dead. This is inexcusable and people who do this are pretty gross human beings. If you don’t care about wildlife wellbeing, at least consider your own. There have been over 80 reported deaths per year in the last three years due to people trying to get the selfie. Researchers at the US National Library of Medicine now even recommend that “no selfie zones” be introduced at dangerous spots to reduce deaths. My advice? Don’t die or be an ass in an effort to be remembered. You’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

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