Prague cracks down on illegal animal selfies with new campaign

New posters will warn people that taking selfies with animals supports animal abuse.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 01.08.2023 09:59:00 (updated on 01.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague City Hall is expanding its tourism campaign to warn people against taking pictures with wild animals. Some people make money by using snakes, birds, or other animals as props to beg for money. Typically, a tourist will pay to pose for a selfie with the animals. The practice is illegal and it puts the animals at risk of injury.

The city administration has been trying to change the city’s image from a party destination to a cultural hub. An ongoing campaign that informs tourists about the rules of behavior now includes animal protection.

“By expanding the Enjoy Respect Prague campaign, we want to prevent tourists from taking pictures with animals, especially those protected by international conventions on the protection of endangered species. This includes snakes, barn owls, and parrots, which we see the most in the historic center,” Deputy Mayor Jiří Pospíšil, responsible for both tourism and animal protection, said in a press release.

Deputy Mayor Jiří Pospíšil with a small copy of the new poster. Photo: Praha.EU
Deputy Mayor Jiří Pospíšil with a small copy of the new poster. Photo: Praha.EU

He added that enforcing the law has been difficult, as the penalty is a fine and many people simply vanish from the country without paying. The people using animals for pictures often are not Czech and simply travel to another city and start over.

Animals at risk of stress and injury

According to experts, exhibiting animals for hours on end in crowded public areas is extremely stressful for them. Frequent handling by strangers stresses the animal even more and can lead to physical injury, refusal of food, and in extreme cases even death.

According to the Animal Protection and Cruelty Act, anyone can turn to the environmental department of the relevant city district with a complaint. Help with solutions is also provided by the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, which can determine whether it is legal to possess the animals. The inspectorate cooperates with the Prague Police.

New poster in the Enjoy Respect Prague campaign. Source: Praha.EU
New poster in the Enjoy Respect Prague campaign. Source: Praha.EU

FEATURED EMPLOYERS

The Enjoy Respect Prague campaign is overseen by Prague City Tourism. Posters appear in the historic center and transport hubs like Václav Havel Airport. František Cipro, chairman of the board of Prague City Tourism, said the campaign follows an initiative by the World Tourism Organization to support sustainable tourism.

It has been a problem for years

The issue of the abuse of animals in the city center is not new. In his ongoing series of YouTube videos called Honest Guide, reporter Janek Rubeš documented people with an owl in Old Town Square. The owl was confiscated by police and turned over to the city’s wild animal rescue station.

Not all people who display animals are violating the law. Some wildlife organizations have permits to possess certain species and on occasion display them at festivals under supervised conditions to raise awareness of conservation issues.

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