Someone tried to tell me that a video of someone tickling a chimpanzee can inspire the next generation of biologists and conservationists because it was posted by a “wildlife conservationist” (Infuencer on Instagram)
First of all, if you think being a biologist consists of tickling chimpanzees and taking pictures with trafficked animals, you’ve got another thing coming. All that does is give the public a fake perception and false security on the status of wildlife.
Second of all, just because you put the words “wildlife conservationist” in your bio, it does NOT make you a conservationist. Said person on Instagram had nothing but exploitative pictures on their page (holding big cat cubs, hugging lemurs, kissing apes, etc.)
This is even more frustrating because their influence is 100% effective. I am certain the person arguing with me genuinely thought what they were doing was okay, solely because they called themselves a conservationist. Imagine what good could come out of a following like that?
This is a subject I am so wildly passionate about and it really hits me hard when I see people exploiting animals for internet clout. I am a strong believer in zoos, outreach, and science communication. I was inspired as a child because of them.
But we have to be better. We have to figure out a way to mitigate this trend because it’s having a real effect. Hell, I quit one of my last jobs because I just couldn’t believe what I was doing was for the good of wildlife (outreach+teaching = good. Selfies+animals = bad)
There are ethical ways to raise awareness and I strongly believe it is my purpose in life to do just that. Anyway there’s my long winded rant. #sciencetwitter #respectwildlife