Why Beyonce's ASEAN Voyage Turned Sour


Pop icon Beyoncé Knowles has come under fire from wildlife groups over animal cruelty allegations following a family trip to Southeast Asia.

Beyoncé, who has just returned from a whirlwind trip to Thailand and Cambodia with her husband Jay Z and two-year old daughter Blue Ivy, drew fierce criticism when an image of the family surfaced with a baby tiger being fed by a milk bottle in the FantaSea theme park in Phuket, Thailand.

“A tiger is not a plaything. Their health and well-being should not be sacrificed for a photo opportunity… When you look behind the scenes, holiday snaps like these support an industry that relies on animal cruelty,” Jan Schmidt-Burbach, a wildlife expert at the British-based World Animal Protection said in a statement on the organization’s website released January 6.

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The picture was posted last Friday by a fan Instagram account Beyonce Lite, rather than through Beyonce’s own official Instagram account. Nonetheless, World Animal Protection contended that as a high-profile celebrity participating in such an act, Beyonce, like many tourists, was inadvertently contributing to the suffering of wild animals and supporting an industry that creates a “lifetime of misery” for such tigers for people to take a “once in a lifetime photo.”

“The tigers used for these photos are often forcibly removed from their mothers to be fed artificially by tourists. They are also crammed into tiny cages or chained to the floor for long periods. A far cry from their natural lives in the wild,” the group’s statement added.

This is the second time Beyoncé has faced such allegations during her Southeast Asia trip. On December 27, Intrepid Travel called the 33-year old out on Twitter when a picture was published of her riding a young Asian elephant in Thailand.

“Hi @ Beyoncé! We don’t want to ruin your vacay, but elephant rides are not fun for elephants,” the tweet read.

Intrepid Travel also included a link to the organization’s blog detailing how such acts may promote animal cruelty, which led the group itself to nix all elephant rides in its own organized trips.

According to the blog entry, in order to be used for rides, elephants need to be “broken” to accept human control, and the evidence suggests that process is “exceptionally cruel.” The group also added that such rides may increase the numbers of elephants being poached from the wild to fuel tourism demand. Lastly, the group said that with various venues trying to outdo each other with novelty offerings, little regard was often given to the elephant’s welfare, with the animals being asked to perform various human-like behaviors which “never felt right.”

Beyoncé has yet to officially respond to either of the allegations.

She and her family were in both Thailand and Cambodia with a packed agenda which included attending a Muay Thai boxing match in Thailand and visiting Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which some include as one of the seven wonders of the world. They were previously in Iceland for Jay Z’s 45th birthday.

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