Instagram says do not take selfies with wild animals

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Put down the selfie stick and step away from the koala.

Users looking to search for hashtags, used to categorise images on the platform, such as #tigerselfie will be presented with a warning message reading: 'Animal abuse and the sale of endangered animals or their parts is not allowed on Instagram'.

That selfie with the adorably lazy sloth can have an impact on the animal more than people realize - so starting Monday Instagram is warning users about their photos' potential link to animal abuse and harm.

It comes after the charity launched a Wildlife Selfie Code for tourists to learn how to take a photos with wild animals without fuelling cruelty.

Sloth selfies on Instagram - typically brokered by locals in tourist traps like Costa Rica - exploded by almost 300 percent this year since 2014, according to World Animal Protection.


"We care about our community, including the animals and the wildlife that are an important part of the platform", Instagram spokeswoman Emily Cain told National Geographic.

The network claim that while people who are taking the photos may not actively be abusing the animals, many animals in captivity are cruelly and illegally captured from their habitats and kept in unacceptable conditions.

"Even if the cruelty isn't right in front of you, [there's] cruelty that's behind the scenes to get to that point", said Cassandra Koenen, head of wildlife campaigns at the organization.

While humans taking pictures with exotic animals is far from a recent phenomenon, there's no denying the rise of social media has brought the practice to a new, much wider audience. The death of the dolphin sparked outrage and went viral on social media.

The message is a response to research conducted by WAP that shows a 292% increase in the number of wildlife selfies posted on Instagram since 2014.

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