New York declares tiger selfies cruel, not cool

06 February 2015

We commend the New York State Assembly for passing a bill banning direct contact between people and large wildcats.

The new law, which takes effect on February 7, 2015, bans direct physical interaction between people and big cats, including tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, and mountain lions.

The bill includes a ban on taking photos with big cats, ‘tiger selfies’ as they are sometimes known, unless there is a permanent physical barrier between tiger and person.

We have been campaigning to let tourists across the world know the truth about ‘tiger selfies’ – and the cruelty they cause – through our Before They Book campaign. This new law is a fantastic step in the right direction.

“New York’s new law is a vital measure that will protect animals and people,” said Priscilla Ma, our U.S. Executive Director.

“Wild animals belong in the wild, and we applaud the New York State Assembly for passing this tremendously positive measure that we hope will inspire other states to enact similar laws.”

Photos with wild animals are a growing trend. In January this year, the singer Beyonce was pictured with a captive tiger in Thailand. In the same month, model and actress Cara Delevigne posed for photos with a lion cub. And all around the world, tourists are paying for their own ‘once in a lifetime’ photographs with tigers and other wildcats.

But a ‘once in a lifetime’ selfie with a captive tiger equals a lifetime of suffering for the animal. To be used for photo opportunities, tigers and other big cats are snatched from their mothers as cubs, or bred in captivity. Tigers often have their canine teeth and their claws removed to make them “safe” to handle - an acutely painful process.

What’s more, selfies with wild animals pose a significant public safety risk. Wild animals belong in the wild, and when used for entertainment, their behaviour can be highly unpredictable. It’s not unknown for tourists to be mauled or attacked when posing with wild animals.

New York State Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), who was the prime sponsor of the law, said, "I am so pleased that my law to ban direct contact between wild cats and members of the public is taking effect. Wild animals, despite how adorable they may appear when cubs, are still wild animals, and pose a real danger to the public.

"In addition to that risk, the wild cats live in deplorable conditions and are treated cruelly for the duration of their lives. The worldwide and overwhelmingly positive response has made clear that this is an idea whose time has come. This law will go a long way to improving the conditions of captive big cats statewide, and I would encourage other states to follow New York's lead."

Get involved 

Read about our work to end wild animal abuse for entertainment, and visit our latest campaign Wildlife – not entertainers to find out how you can help.

“Wild animals belong in the wild, and we applaud the New York State Assembly for passing this tremendously positive measure that we hope will inspire other states to enact similar laws.”

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