An open letter.
*Update: We can't believe we have to say this, but this also extends to plant life! Recent news from Mashable has shared that with cherry blossom season has come an influx of people attempting to get the perfect selfie by climbing and kicking the fragile spring trees. Don't be these people.
Listen, folks, there is nothing inherently bad about a selfie. There's nothing, even, inherently bad about a selfie stick. But like everything on God's Green Earth, there is a time and a place. When circumstances are such that selfie-taking involves putting an animal at risk? Don't do it.
It sounds like common sense, but you know what? People are doing it. Just two weeks ago a group of beachgoers in Argentina pulled a small dolphin up the beach to take photos. The dolphin—reportedly a very rare species that can only be found off the coasts of Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil—died of dehydration after people crowded to touch and photograph it.
That same week, at the Yunnan Animal Park in China, two peacocks died after tourists picked them up to get a few photos. Earlier in the month, a video surfaced of a man pulling a shark out of the ocean and taking photos. (The shark was returned to the water.)
In the last week, a tourist killed a swan by dragging it out of Lake Orhid in the Republic of Macedonia. The picture she took with it shows her grabbing the swan by the neck. In Costa Rica last year tourists totally messed up the breeding patterns of sea turtles while trying to take photos. The list goes on.
This transcends being a terrible tourist. This is being a terrible living being on planet earth.
And speaking of the planet earth, maybe cool it with the blatant disregard for its other natural wonders, too. A Microsoft founder recently destroyed 14,000 square feet of coral reef with his yacht. Researchers believe tourists' garbage has discolored natural geysers in Yellowstone National Park.
At the end of the day, let's recall the words of Chief Seattle of Western Washington's Duwamish tribe: "Take only memories, leave only footsteps." Oh, and you don't need a picture of your face to have a memory.