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Instagram will start issuing warnings against posting selfies with wildlife creatures like the Australian koala, with animal-cruelty cautions when people search the hashtags #koalaselfie, #lionselfie or #tigerpet, the National Geographic reports.

No more monkey selfies!

Celebrities including socialite Paris Hilton and reality start Khloe Kardashian have been roundly criticised for posing for pictures with chimpanzees and orangutans at private zoos by the UN's Great Apes Survival Partnership, who branded them "chumps with chimps" past year.

"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 animals of concern include tigers, lions, koalas and dolphins.

"Maybe someone who's been selling live animals on Instagram will get the popup and think, OK, this is going to get a lot harder for me", Grein says.


Instagram also has policed content for other topics including suicide, self-harm and eating disorders. "A lot of these other issues are incredibly significant", Grein says. There are now hundreds of hashtags such as #SlothSelfie and #MonkeySelfie on Instagram.

These animals are often victims of the tourism industry, and paying for pictures with exotic animals may put them and endangered animals at risk, the guidelines explain.

The introduction of the warning feature is part of a fine line that social networks walk between stopping the spread of negative images and censoring users. According to Giavanna Grein, TRAFFIC and the World Wildlife Fund plan to focus on suggesting more hashtags and working with Instagram to train employees to spot content involving endangered animals.

Instagram isn't the only social platform to take a stand on wildlife protection.

Instagram officials want to change that.

More than 40 per cent of those photos showed harmful interactions with the animal, such as hugging, holding, riding or inappropriately handling the animal, the group found.

"The majority are really unaware of a lot of the awful conditions and disgusting treatment that wild animals experience, so that we can really capture special vacation selfies".


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