Footballer Karim Benzema caused controversy on January 1 after sharing several photos of himself and his children playing with a baby tiger on Instagram. As French animal rescue organisation Fondation 30 Millions d'Amisput it, it's "a terrible statement to make on wild animal exploitation".In the first image, the Real Madrid striker's son, who is 7 months old, watches the tiny cat, while in the second his 4-year-old daughter poses with her father, who holds the cub. Taken during a trip to Dubai, the shots were captioned with "2018, it's like that", but no clue as to the origins or current whereabouts of the tiger.
A post shared by Karim Benzema (@karimbenzema) on Dec 31, 2017 at 3:11pm PST
Denouncing the images, 30 Millions d'Amis mentioned that the possession of wild animals is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, the country where Dubai is situated. Tigers are also considered "endangered" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and are often victims of the tourist industry and poachers.
Source: Instagram / Karim Benzema
"He's treating a wild animal like a cuddly toy" and "it's awful that his kids are seeing this as an example! We must educate our children" are just some of the responses to the photos, which have received a deluge of comments from people voicing their concern and disgust that such a famous man would use his influence to endorse animal cruelty and use a wild creature for entertainment.Laurence Parisot, a former head of the French employers' union, questioned Benzema about the cub's welfare on Twitter:
Where is its mother? What are you going to do with it? Don't you think it would be happier in its natural habitat?
https://twitter.com/Benzema/status/948605031326126080The Real Madrid player accused her of having a "personal agenda", telling her to "do her research before speaking".
This isn't the first time Benzema has faced the wrath of animal lovers. Last February, he caught a wild iguana, which is an endangered species and can suffer from stress.[caption id="attachment_45012" align="alignnone" width="840"]
Karim Benzema in Martinique with a live iguana. Source: Facebook / Karim Benzema[/caption]Just months later, in June 2017, the footballer shared photos of him with a young chimpanzee and two white lion cubs - especially distressing as white lions suffer from the same kinds of problems as white tigers.
A post shared by Karim Benzema (@karimbenzema) on Jun 15, 2017 at 10:04am PDT
[caption id="attachment_45016" align="alignnone" width="768"]
Karim Benzema with two white lion cubs. Source: Twitter : Karim Benzema[/caption]Recently, several social media platforms have issued warnings, aimed at discouraging people from sharing photos that directly or indirectly exploit wild animals.Two notable recent examples areInstagram, who made it clear that animal abuse would not be allowedon their site, and dating app Tinder, who asked users to not use selfies and photos with tigers on their profiles.
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