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Have fun and save big cats at the same time. The Tiger Selfie app has been updated to be both fun and educational.
Be sure to use the hashtag #TigerSelfie so we can see your power in reaching the masses with this educational app. Sorry, this isn’t available on Android yet.
Find out how this app came about:
I didn’t know what to say to him.
I thought it was one of those genius ideas, that could create a viral cyber storm of education to end the one thing that causes more big cat abuse than anything else. I wanted him to know that his spark of brilliance was appreciated, and yet, I knew I would have to tell him that we couldn’t be associated with it. I would have to explain that we couldn’t profit from it, nor promote it, because it would make us look bad. That was even harder for me to say, because I was pretty sure he would hear it from every legitimate big cat protection group. It was unfathomable to me that we might collectively crush his innovation when it had such huge potential.
Let’s go back a couple of days.
On May 27, 2015 Chris wrote to Big Cat Rescue:
My name is Chris Wilson. I created an iOS app called Tiger Selfie. It allows you to take a picture (live or from your camera roll) and place a tiger on it. Actually, as many tigers as you want. Different types and combinations. And then you can save it to your camera roll or tweet it, text it, or email it. You can learn more about it at www.tigerselfieapp.com or view it on the App Store at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tiger-selfie/id951750724.
When I initially started showing it to people, many people said I should charge for it and donate some of the profit to Tiger Sanctuaries. I didn’t realize there were so many tigers in need of rescue, so it was an eye opener to do some research. I was immediately in love with the idea and am now working on getting the word out. Your facility appears to be one of the best ones, so I thought I’d reach out to see if you’d be interested in some cross-promotion.
What I’m thinking is that you could drive downloads (and thus donations) by pushing Tiger Selfie via social media. I see that you have a very strong presence on Facebook. Also, a banner on your website could also be effective.
Is this something you’d be willing to discuss? I would be happy to get on the phone with someone in your organization to work out the details of a partnership.
Please just let me know. And thank you for what you’re doing. Regards, Chris Wilson Austin, TX
My Staff Hated The Idea
I brought it up at the next weekly staff meeting and most of the staff hated the idea. They said it sent the wrong message and that our enemies (tiger cub pimps) would use it against us. They made valid points about the problem with viewers seeing the images and that driving them to want to go pay to play with real cubs, to post images of themselves with real tigers. I was vastly out numbered, but couldn’t quit thinking about the potential this app had. I decided to write the letter, declining his offer, but hoped to do so in a way that Chris would see that he was really onto something here.
So I wrote to Chris Wilson:
Thanks for considering Big Cat Rescue with your tiger selfie app. It has caused quite an uproar here because it is such a controversial approach to educating people about why it is so wrong to pose with wild animals.
I appreciated your app description saying that the app was for the purpose of “impressing your shallow friends.” I think that could be made stronger, and thus more palatable, to those of us who see cub handling and the number one cause of big cat abuse, if it were to read:
Posing with big cats or their cubs is the leading cause of abuse and never serves any conservation value. Use this app to educate your shallow friends who might think the real thing is cool.
I think your idea is VERY clever and helps reach an audience who might not understand how abusive it is to take cubs from their mothers and use them as photo props, only to be discarded as adults. I am also impressed by your technical ability in the creation of the product. I tried it out and it was easy to use and appeared to be easy to share, although I didn’t because I haven’t quite figured out how to do so in a way that doesn’t alienate those who do understand what a cruel thing it is to pose with captive wild animals.
If you follow us, you know the bad guys, the ones who breed and exploit big cat cubs, are always trying to twist things against us. While we know they are being deceitful, there are still a lot of uneducated people out there who might not understand that the use of your tiger selfie app is akin to CGI in movies. It is meant to replace the use of wild animals, not stimulate demand for more wild animals in entertainment.
We would not want to be a beneficiary of the app monetarily because that would just fuel the liars who would say we sold out our principles for monetary gain. We would like to see that money spent on saving wild cats in the wild, but you run into the same issue there, I think. WWF or Panthera, who are the leaders in that area, would probably have the same concerns we have in lending our name to something that makes us look bad, even though the ultimate goal is to stop the use of real cubs.
If your tiger selfie app takes on a life of its own and becomes hugely popular, then you don’t need us, and you can do amazing things to educate people about why your app is a much better solution to image enhancement than hurting cubs and conservation.
I do think you have tremendous potential for getting the word out this way though, so I’m still wrestling with it. At the very least I’d like to write an article about your app, to our existing supporters, explaining this dilemma we have with the idea, to get a feel for what impact it might have. The side benefit is that anyone reading the article may be curious about your app and may see the benefit to recommending it as an alternative.
If that sounds good to you, I’ll write up the article and let you approve it before it goes live. For the cats, Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
Chris Called Me About the Letter
I had written Chris again, suggesting that maybe the app could have a link to a page about why it is so abusive to pet cubs and he called me. He launched into the call with a solution that was even more amazing than the app. He said that he could turn each Tiger Selfie image into an animated gif. (At first I pictured dancing cubs, and thought to myself that this conversation was going to be harder than I expected, if he thought THAT was the answer.)
Before I had the chance to interrupt, he continued saying that he could make the tiger selfie photo appear briefly, but then it would dissolve into the key message we wanted to get across.
The Purr-fect Solution!
If the tiger selfie image automatically turned into the educational message there was no way this app could be mis-used or mis-interpreted! The tiger (or other exotic cat) photos could be derived from sanctuary cats in order to make sure that no money inadvertently ends up in the hands of those who rent out their cats for photo shoots. Everyone who used the app would learn the truth about how cruel it is to pose with wild animals for selfies AND would turn them into advocates (we call them AdvoCats) for change. I can’t think of anything that has more potential to reach more of our target audience than the Tiger Selfie App.
The ad campaign possibilities are endless. The Tiger Selfie App allows you to share immediately to your email, Twitter and Instagram and you can save to your camera roll for posting to Facebook and other sites. Billboards, using imagery that can be created in the app, with just the link to TigerSelfieApp.com are bound to make people wonder what that is about, and learn something when they check it out. Online photo ads, print ads, and television ads that have the inviting images (for those who need to be educated) and a simple link. Chris Wilson deserves recognition by the animal protection community for taking a simple and trendy idea and turning it into a method that may well save the tiger.
That may sound grandiose, but we can’t save tigers in the wild until we end the captive trade in them, that creates the legal smokescreen for illegal poaching. The Tiger Selfie App has that potential.
On August 11, 2015 the app was updated to reflect the new animated gif message. Get your Tiger Selfie App now, and start sharing Tiger Selfies to save tigers: http://www.tigerselfieapp.com
Be sure to use the hashtag #TigerSelfie so we can see your power in reaching the masses with this educational app.
Tell us what you think of using tiger selfies that don’t use live cats and that includes a message about the evils of cub handling in the comments below:
Big Cat Walkabout Video
This is a compilation of videos between June 30 and August 8 2015 at Big Cat Rescue. It includes freshening up dens, a wedding staffed by volunteers, Kali Tiger, Sabre Leopard, Anasazi Bobcat, Cameron and Zabu the Lion and White Tiger, Little Feather Bobcat in slo-mo, Reise Cougar talking, JoJo the CaraVel, Joseph Lion ending his vacation, Jumanji Leopard getting a shot, Foster Kittens and ends with Amanda Tiger calling for her brothers.
The Williamson County Fair
The Williamson County Fair made the mistake of allowing a circus act that exploits tigers to use their venue. Let the fair know that most people oppose such barbaric acts.
Meet Olga Bellon on Cat Chat Show 69
Olga Bellon gets a crash course in big cat care at Big Cat Rescue to implement in the new big cat facility being built in Spain as part of AAP. Download the Lower Res Podcast File here.
More about Big Cat Rescue’s work with AAP Primadomus
Big Cat Rescue was recruited to offer our expertise and guidance in the development of a rescue center in Spain that will be broadening their focus from primates to now include big cats. AAP Primadomus is located on more than 400 acres in Villena and currently houses a variety of primates that have been rescued from private ownership, circuses, and laboratories. They are now expanding their focus to also rescue countless lions and tigers that are in need across their country.
In an effort to prepare for this project nearly a dozen experts were invited to a symposium that focused on sharing information regarding the proper care of big cats in captivity, emergency protocol development, and enclosure design. Big Cat Rescue President Jamie Veronica and volunteer veterinarian Justin Boorstein travelled to Spain and joined experts from Italy, South Africa, France, Austria, the Netherlands and all across the United Kingdom.
Over the course of three days the team worked tirelessly to provide as much information as possible to the members of not only AAP Primadomus, but its origin center Stitching AAP. Stitching AAP is a rescue center for apes, monkeys and small exotic animals in the Netherlands that was founded more than 35 years ago.
The symposium was a huge success. Big Cat Rescue will continue to work with AAP remotely throughout the development process. We are so pleased to provide assistance to organizations that are saving big cats across the globe!
Primadomus Success 2015
It has passed almost 2 years since you came to Villena to help us in this new project for us.
We are very proud to inform you that we finally made this reality and wanted to share it with you, so you can witness from distance the good job we all did! We had to take some time after being able to share graphic info, that’s why I contact you today, but we have had all you in mind during this time.
Last Friday we rescued our 4 first animals. We are very happy to give them a better life in our facilities.
I hope you enjoy!! And of course, you are all welcomed to come to visit us and see it by your own eyes.
Best regards, Pilar