The phenomenon of “photo prop” animals – Why you shouldn’t take a Tiger selfie

The popularity of “Tiger selfies” on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, have gained momentum as social media users find new and interesting photos to upload, and most don’t know the reality behind the tiger entertainment venues, which mask themselves as conservation centres, that they buy tickets for, to get that all important photo for the “gram.”
Photo credit: PETA


Whilst on holiday in South-East Asia, the opportunity to take a photo with one of the most feared and respected predators in the world; a tiger, is one that most jump at the chance to do, but if more awareness and education about the treatment of these tigers was available, most would regret this choice or simply choose to not do it.

Food for thought…By choosing not to visit these venues, you will play a crucial part in shutting down these entertainment venues and curbing the demand. By choosing to interact with a wild animal in venues like this, you are supporting a cruel and inhumane industry. What side of the fence would you rather be on?

If you’re thinking that one photo with a tiger cub or fully grown tiger won’t hurt, just be aware that the tiger you have chosen to interact with is a Captive tiger, and not in their natural habitat, regardless of the “conservation” claims the venue may spew at you, and you are supporting this unethical animal activity by doing so.

Tigers that exist at these venues suffer trauma at a very young age, as cubs, taken away from their mothers within two weeks of birth against their own will. Future ones are born in captivity, and as they lose their natural instincts to hunt and behave as tigers do in the wild, they can never be released back into the wilderness.

When they they grow bigger they are sadly still confined to small, barren cages, chained and subjected to harsh training.

While in these venues they are kept chained for great periods of time and in some cases,are made to perform unnatural activities, such as jumping through burning hoops, balancing on ropes and walking across raised steel platforms. To train the tigers to perform in this way, pain and suffering is inflicted upon them,

When they get too big to be used as a source of profit, they ‘disappear.’

Real talk

Ever wondered why the tiger is so docile when you are awaiting your turn for the “selfie” opportunity? Do you think in the wild you could take a photo like this with a tiger?

Photo credit: World Animal Protection

The harsh reality is that they are sedated so they are almost in a trance like state limiting the risk of them attacking humans. This is so wrong and Tigers are wild animals and should not be subject to such treatment for the sake of  a photo to be proudly shared on social media.

Venues will claim they don’t sedate tigers but use your common sense. This is not an activity to encourage anyway and so please just avoid all together.

I have seen this on Instagram where people have posed with a clearly sedated tiger, ignored any comments from people about the unethical nature of the activity behind the static photo and even gone so far as turn off comments to avoid criticism. All because those likes and comments that they will receive on their photo are some sort of narcissistic validation for them.

What people should remember is that not is this only unethical, the tiger can maul you at any time and that is not the tiger’s fault. They are solitary animals and should not be surrounded by humans.

So what can you do?

Educate others who are thinking of going to a tiger “sanctuary” or venue where photo opportunities or interaction opportunities are offered.

Share articles and information condemning this to further raise awareness.

If you’ve taken a tiger selfie in the past and now know the reality, delete those photos and don’t share them/promote them on your social media platforms.

A great step by Instagram is to pop up a warning if people try to view photos with the #tigerselfie hashtag.

Take and share the pledge to end #RuthlessTourism

Four Paws UK have a pledge on their website to end #RuthlessTourism. Why not take it and share it:

Take the pledge

Let’s do all we can to curb the demand!

Known Venues to avoid


  • Tiger Kingdom in Phuket
  • Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai


  • Casela World of Adventures


If you spot this happening, please try and educate those who are paying to do it or report this on Born Free Foundation’s ‘Raise the Red Flag.’


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  1. kerry wrote:

    I am with you a million percent on this Binny. As soon as the weird popularity of this sort of photo stops, so will the trade. As we always say, education is key xx

    Posted 10.22.19 Reply
  2. Anita wrote:

    When I went travelling in Thailand many years ago as a student, I did visit Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai- which I’m embarrassed to admit now. I truly believed all their claims that the tigers were in their natural state and not drugged- how stupid was I. This was long before social media so I can’t blame Instagram! Anyway, nowadays I tell everyone not to visit places like that and how awful a trade it is 🙁

    Posted 10.23.19 Reply
  3. Laura wrote:

    I cant understand why this is becoming more and more popular, they should be shut down!

    Posted 11.6.19 Reply
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