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Rihanna’s is currently enjoying her trip to Thailand but it has not turned out so well for two locals who were arrested and are now facing jail time.
The singer posed for photographs in Phuket this weekend with some local wildlife, during a break from her world tour.
After she tweeted a link to an Instagram photo showing her with a Slow Loris’s a Phuket official told the Associated Press and local police arrested two men, a sixteen year old and a twenty year old who said they had “brought the Loris as a photo opportunity for tourist”.
The Slow Loris is a protected species and now the men could face up to four years in jail and a forty thousand baht fine. A local official told the Associated Press that wildlife exploitation has been going on for over three years and tourists who pay to pose with animals do nothing but exacerbate the problem.
Sadly many tourists in Thailand think that having a photograph of themselves with an eagle, python, monkey or even a tiger is a nice souvenir of their holiday in Thailand. However, not only is the use of animals for entertainment inhumane and unacceptable from an ethical point of view, it is also extremely damaging from a conservation perspective.
Many of the wild animals used in tourist photographs are poached from ever decreasing wild population and if this is allowed to continue some species will die out.
The Wildlife Friends of Thailand Foundation website offers some advice on the reasons that nobody should support the photo props while in Thailand.
The animals are often drugged and mistreated and passed from one stranger to another all day long and into the night causing them unspeakable suffering.
Most of the animals are only used while they are young and when the reach adult hood and become aggressive, which is natural behavior for them they are simply dumped.
Some people, as well as gibbons, carry diseases that can be transferred from animals to people nd visa versa. You can actually pick up deadly diseases from interaction with infected animals including TBC and Hepatitis B. The Slow Loris have particularly sharp teeth and toxic saliva, one bite can lead to severe blood poisoning.
They also point out common myths.
That the owners of these animals are very poor and would be unable to make a living without them, the WFFT say this is not true, profits from the exploitation of these animals can be over US $200 per night.
They also point out that contrary to popular believe these animals do not love attention from people nor do they have a special bond with their owner, these animals have been forcefully taken away from their families in the wild and are very scared and dependant on their owners due to basic fear and stress. Gibbons are known to be given sleeping pills to keep them quite during the day and often beaten to keep them under control.
Another myth is that the animals have been bred in captivity and are obtained legally, this is also untrue, as although it is not impossible to breed wildlife in captivity there are no legal breeding facilities in Thailand that hand over or sell wildlife to third parties, and even if they were to offer protected wildlife for sale the cost of poaching would be far less.
Many believe that the animals are treated well, however most illegally kept animals are confined to tiny barren cages and receive little or no veterinary care. They are malnourished and imprisoned, and then killed or abandoned once they are no longer useful.