We have recently discussed tourists harming wildlife for self-absorbed photos. The latest example of such reckless conduct is from the British Virgin Islands where Dan Bilzerian posted a picture of a bikini-clad woman riding a 100-year-old Galapagos tortoise. Fortunately there is no indication that the tortoise was harmed but such uniquely stupid conduct. Bilzerian is the self-proclaimed “King of Instagram” as well as one of the most self-obsessed individuals that you are likely to encounter.
People were legitimately outraged and animal experts have said that the tortoise could have been harmed. However, Bilzerian dismissed all of the complaints and stated “Get off your soapbox, the people working there said it’s fine to sit on them.”
There are some sites (and even a TripAdvisor review) on “riding tortoises” — a practice widely condemned by experts. These magnificent animals are not horses or playing things for juveniles. Even in China (with perhaps the worst record on the care of animals at zoos and parks) fired a zoo keeper for allowing people to ride their tortoise. He let people prod the tortoise with a screwdriver to guarantee a better ride. Other turtles have been seriously injured by tourists stepping on them and dragging them around.
Bilzerian appears to love to post pictures of himself with scantily clad women and guns. In this case however his juvenile, self-obsession led to global condemnation. I doubt seriously that it will materially change his conduct but the British Virgin Islands needs to take greater care in not only protecting wildlife but pursuing people like Bilzerian.