‘Monkey Selfie’ Settlement May Spark Positive Changes to Wildlife Photography
As a result of the landmark “monkey selfie” case and settlement agreement between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and David Slater, some positive changes could be coming. Renowned wildlife photographer Andy Parkinson has decided to donate a percentage of his profits to charities who are working hard to preserve the gradually disappearing habitats of animals. “We need to start giving back more to our subjects,” Parkinson stated.
The photographer, whose clients include National Geographic and BBC Wildlife, made the pledge to PETA U.K. following the settlement over Naruto’s infamous close-up. In 2011, the endangered monkey grabbed David Slater’s mounted camera and snapped a selfie. Slater then self-published a book that included the image. PETA sued Slater, claiming Naruto owned the rights to the photograph, not the photographer. The parties eventually settled and Slater agreed to donate 25 percent of future revenue from the selfie to charitable groups who protect monkeys of Naruto’s species in Indonesia.
Evidently, this sparked some changes for the better in the world of wildlife photography. “Andy Parkinson’s stunning photographs showcase animals’ beauty, and his pledge will help preserve their homes,” says PETA U.K. Director of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi. “PETA hopes many other wildlife photographers will follow his lead and share their takings with the subjects of their work.”
Parkinson is also concerned with the suffering of farmed animals who are bred for food. “We need to stop this absurd hypocrisy and start seeing the beauty and value in all lives,” he said. “It makes no sense to spend our days looking directly into the eyes of our wild cousins, transfixed and astonished by their beauty, and then go home and fry up some bacon. We can’t be environmental champions and eat meat, we can’t claim to be animal lovers and then be complicit in the needless violence inflicted upon them. At all times, we must act with honor, compassion, and decency, and I hope this pledge will inspire my colleagues to join me in giving back to the animals. It is, after all, they that we have to thank for our careers, and we need to extend our circle of compassion to all those in the animal kingdom.”
Parkinson and PETA would love to see other wildlife photographers come aboard with similar pledges so the animals they capture will live in more humane conditions and be around for generations to come. Parkinson’s images depict living, breathing beings that don’t deserve to be abused.
PETA is the largest animal rights organization in the world. Its more than 6.5 million members and supporters focus their “attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: in the food industry, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry.” The organization also works on “a variety of other issues, including the cruel killing of rodents, birds, and other animals who are often considered ‘pests’ as well as cruelty to domesticated animals.” Through “public education, cruelty investigations, research, animal rescue, legislation, special events, celebrity involvement, and protest campaigns,” PETA is dedicated to bringing awareness to these issues and advocating for changes to the way animals are treated.