A terrified sloth was filmed clinging to a 100ft-tall tree before illegal loggers chopped down its home and sold the animal into the tourist entertainment trade.
Although the three-toed sloth survived the fall as loggers chopped down its home in Peru, the animal was then bagged up and sold at market in the town of Iquitos for just £9.80.
It is one of many sloths captured by illegal loggers and sold into the growing exotic pet or entertainment trade, where they are then forced to take selfies with tourists.
A terrified three-toed sloth was filmed clinging to a tree as illegal loggers chopped it down i Peru
The loggers shook the 100ft-tall tree before deciding to cut it down in an attempt to reach the sloth
The growing tourist craze which sees tourists taking selfies with wild animals and posting them to Instagram is fuelling the cruel treatment of sloths and other species in the Amazon, activists have warned.
The charity World Animal Protection said in a report that Instagram has seen a 292 per cent increase in wildlife selfies since 2014 around the world.
Of these, more than 40 percent involved humans ‘hugging or inappropriately interacting with a wild animal’.
World Animal Protection said in the report released earlier this month that animals are captured and often battered to make them perform for tourism businesses.
‘Behind the scenes these animals are often beaten into submission, taken from their mothers as babies and secretly kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food that can have a long term negative impact on their biology and behavior,’ the group said.
‘All too often, to the unsuspecting tourist, the cruelty that makes these animals submissive and available is entirely invisible.’
CEO Steve McIvor called the growing tourist craze ‘ludicrous’, saying it causes animals ‘severe psychological trauma’.
Although the three-toed sloth survived the fall as loggers chopped down its home in Peru, the animal was then bagged up and sold at market in the town of Iquitos for just £9.80
It is one of many sloths captured by illegal loggers and sold into the growing exotic pet or entertainment trade, where they are then forced to take selfies with tourists
The slow-moving three-toed sloths can do little to fend off human captors and are often easy for loggers to bag up
‘This industry is fuelled by tourists, many of whom love animals and are unaware of the terrible treatment and abhorrent conditions wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo,’ he told the Mirror.
McIvor said that 80 per cent of Peruvian timber export stems from illegal logging and workers looking to make money from selling wild animals captured while cutting down trees.
The slow-moving three-toed sloths can do little to fend off human captors and are often easy for loggers to bag up.
A male sloth often lives in the same tree for his entire life, while female sloths move after giving birth, leaving its tree to her children.
World Animal Protection is calling on governments in South America to enforce laws that would prevent travel companies from exploiting wild animals for tourism.
It has also launched a campaign titled the Wildlife Selfie Code, offering tourists education on how to take photos with animals without fuelling the cruel wildlife entertainment industry.
Wildlife entertainment is rife in the Amazon region, with 61 per cent of the species involved listed as needing international protection by the worldwide Convention on the Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES, according to the charity.
World Animal Protection is calling on governments in South America to enforce laws that would prevent travel companies from exploiting wild animals for tourism. The sloth is pictured above in a bag
In the Brazilian Amazon city of Manaus, for example, 18 tour companies said they offered opportunities on 94 percent of trips to ‘hold and touch wild animals as photo props’.
The most common selfie animal there is the pink river dolphin, then three-toed sloths, caimans, green anacondas and squirrel monkeys.
‘There is good reason to believe that most sloths being used for tourist selfies don’t survive even six months of this treatment,’ a report from earlier this month.
It listed examples of animals being kept in dire conditions for the selfie trade, including a manatee held in a small tank in front of a hotel and a giant anteater ‘manhandled and beaten’ by its owner.
Roberto Cabral, coordinator for enforcement at the Brazilian environmental institute Ibama, told AFP that keeping animals for tourist selfies is illegal.
In comparison to the scale of illegal trafficking of animals, the problem is ‘minimal,’ he said.
However, he also pleaded with visitors not to support the trend.
‘The irony is that the tourist who usually takes photos with an animal is the same tourist who likes animals but is now contributing to that animal’s distress,’ he said.