YES: Instagram Just Did The Best Thing For Animals

This is one of the biggest threats to wild animals — and Instagram's working to end it.

Instagram just took a big step to help wild animals around the world that will potentially reach the company's 800 million users.

When people search for hashtags like #slothselfie, #monkeyselfie or #tigerselfie, a warning will pop up: "Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts are not allowed on Instagram," the message reads. So often, the real story behind the wildlife selfies, which have increased by 292 percent since 2014, are full of pain and suffering.

One such story was highlighted by The Dodo earlier this year, when World Animal Protection (WAP) released heartbreaking footage shot undercover in the rainforest.

Sloth being stolen from the forest to be sold at market
World Animal Protection

Illegal loggers in Peru were cutting down a tree. As it fell, a wild sloth could be seen clinging to its trunk. 

The men pried the scared animal off the dead tree, put her in a bag and brought her to a market to be sold to tourist destinations as a photo prop.

It isn't only sloths — selfies with tiger and lion cubs, orangutans and chimps and so many other threatened and exotic animals all promote using animals for snapshots, despite the realities of their treatment and the threats to their kind, like habitat loss and the illegal pet trade. Such close interactions with humans can be very stressful for the animals, as well.

"We congratulate Instagram on taking this important step towards educating its users about wild animals that are suffering for selfies and for recognizing that animal abuse happens both in front of and behind the camera," Cassandra Koenen, head of wildlife campaigns at WAP, said in a statement. "With its community of over 800 million users, Instagram has the platform to change the conversation around the use of animals as photo props. We are encouraged by this first step towards changing the acceptability of using animals for our entertainment.”

You can go one step further and add your name to the people who pledge to follow World Animal Protection's Wildlife Selfie Code.