I just read this article in a national newspaper, and it’s made me feel pretty exasperated. Apparently, Rihanna went on holiday to Thailand and took advantage of what was offered to her there, which has lead the Thai government to make several token arrests. Sigh.
Here’s a quote from a zoologist (from the Guardian article):
“Please help us raise awareness about this problem by speaking out against it and asking your fans not to have their photo taken with exotic animals when abroad.”
Why do we expect celebrities to be our moral educators? Aren’t celebrities doing charity work just looking to improve their image in the media? Isn’t that how they roll?
“Rihanna was visiting Thailand while on a brief holiday […], seemingly oblivious to the legal customs of the country.”
So, like the majority of tourists who go there then?
There’s nothing to be gained by pointing the finger at Rihanna, ridiculing her, and saying “How dare she not have known!”, when I’m sure thousands of visitors to Thailand every year get sucked in to doing pretty much exactly the same thing without really thinking it through, just to get their very own photo with a tiger. It’s the way it is, and it needs to change, and this is a great opportunity to do that, but shaming people isn’t going to convince them to change their behaviour, and closes any form of meaningful dialogue.
I’ve commented in a previous post about ethical tourism in general, and this incident will spur me on to write future, more in depth posts on the areas I’m visiting in Central America. Meanwhile, why not take a minute to read this site about ethical tourism:
They even have a free e-book to download!