Quantcast

How Paris Hilton's Instagram Post Endangers the Survival of Orangutans and Chimpanzees

Animals

The United Nations's Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) is speaking out against the increasingly popular and upsetting pastime of celebrity animal selfies as it glamorizes illegal wildlife trafficking and damages conservation efforts.

According to GRASP research, as reported by The Guardian, an increasing number of orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos are being stolen from the wild and wind up in private gardens, zoos and restaurants in Gulf countries.

With the rise of selfie culture, many celebrities have posted images of themselves on social media with endangered animals that they might not realize were illegally obtained, GRASP coordinator Douglas Cress warned.

“These pictures are seen by hundreds of millions of fans, and it sends the message that posing with great apes—all of which are obtained through illegal means, and face miserable lives once they grow too big and strong to hold—is okay as long as it’s cute. But it’s not. It’s illegal, and it contributes to the destruction of already endangered species,” Cress told The Guardian.

Reality stars Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian have separate Instagram selfies with a dressed-up orangutan named Dior, who lives in a private zoo in Dubai.

"This is baby Dior, and she's one years [sic] old, and she's the cutest little girl in the world," Hilton says in her Instagram video.

Kardashian called Dior her "new best friend."

Cress told CNN that "every time a famous face is seen cuddling an ape in this way, it undoes years of our work."

"It lowers the value of the animal, and the public sense of conservation drops," he said.

"If you can laugh at an animal, or you can empathize by how human it is in clothing, then you rob it of its natural wildness. It becomes something comic, or a pet," Cress added.

"So when you have a celebrity like Paris Hilton holding an orangutan with a dress on, they can impact millions of people because their audience is so huge."

Iraqi Kurdistan and Armenia are reportedly hotspots for the wildlife black market and Libya has been a stopover for trafficked apes on the way to Egypt, The Guardian reported.

"The Middle East is both a transit region, and where many rich families have private menageries," Cress told CNN.

Cress explained that owners of private zoos can easily obtain these animals "because law enforcement is relatively weak against a wealthy elite that appear untouchable."

The illegal wildlife trade is even more devastating when you consider how taking baby primates from the wild usually involves killing many of their family members since they resist separation from each other.

"In the case of chimps, which live in families of 10, they're not going to just give their babies up. So you have to kill a lot, to get one," Cress said. "They are then sold to a middleman, then to an exporter, and transported in suitcases and shopping bags—it's that blatant."

Real Madrid soccer player James Rodriguez also posted an Instagram photo of himself with orangutan in Dubai four months ago.

"The selfies taken by Paris Hilton, Khloe Kardashian and others in the Middle East are incredibly damaging to honest conservation efforts, as studies indicate that images of celebrities cuddling apes make the general public care less about conservation and the extinction threats facing these species," Cress told MailOnline.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

60% of Loggerhead Turtles Stranded on Beaches in South Africa Had Ingested Plastic

Is the Whale Shark Tourism Industry Conservation or Exploitation?

Huge Success: Two Years of Zero Rhino Poaching in Nepal

Chimpanzee’s Solitary Confinement Comes to an End

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less