Shocking video of sloth snatched from the wild reveals true horror behind wildlife selfies

20 October 2017

Footage from our undercover investigations shows a sloth being forced into a sack by illegal loggers after falling 100 feet to the ground. You can help end cruelty like this by committing to cruelty-free wildlife selfies

This upsetting video was captured near the town of Iquitos, Peru, which is the gateway to the tribal villages of the northern Amazon.

It’s likely this sloth was sold into the wildlife selfie trade, or the exotic pet trade. The footage reveals the horrible method used to steal wild animals from their homes, just so tourists can take photos with them.

Local illegal loggers are seen cutting down a 100-foot tree whilst the terrified animal clings on for his life.

Stolen then sold

After being cut, the tree slams to the ground, but the sloth miraculously survives. He’s bagged up and later sold at Belén market on the outskirts of Iquitos for just $13 USD.  

Sloths captured by illegal loggers in this way are usually sold at markets and brought into the exotic pet or tourist entertainment trade, where they are forced to have photographs taken with tourists.

A tourist holds a sloth in the Amazon

Our CEO Steve McIvor said: "This footage is extremely distressing. We know that animals stolen from the wild for use as tourist photo props are kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food, causing them severe psychological trauma.

"It is ludicrous that this is to fuel the wildlife selfie craze which has become a worldwide phenomenon. This industry is fuelled by tourists, many of whom love animals and are unaware of the terrible treatment and abhorrent conditions wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo."

Growing illegal business  

It’s estimated that 80% of Peruvian timber export stems from illegal logging.  

Many of these loggers seek to make additional money by capturing and selling wild animals, including sloths, for tourist entertainment. 

Typically tame animals 

Three-toed sloths are slow moving tree-dwellers and are easily caught by loggers. They cannot escape and can do little to fend off their human attackers.  

Male sloths usually stay in the same tree for his entire life, but female sloths move after giving birth, leaving the tree to the offspring.

A wild sloth hanging from a tree in Panama. Credit: WDabrowka, KVang @birdexplorers.com

To tackle the issue, we’re calling on governments to enforce the law, and ensure that travel companies and individuals who are exploiting wild animals for tourism in the Amazon abide by the existing laws.  

You help end the cruel trend of wildlife selfies – and commit to cruelty-free selfies instead – by signing up to our Wildlife Selfie Code.

"It is ludicrous that this is to fuel the wildlife selfie craze which has become a worldwide phenomenon."

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