I admit I’m a sucker for adorable animals in videos and pictures. With all the troubles in the world today, sometimes it’s nice to vicariously immerse myself in piles of puppies, kittens, and other cute critters. Unfortunately, sometimes the media I’m consuming is a source of troubles itself. Many times ignorance about animal behavior is at the root of the cruelty, though there are situations that are born out of greed for money, prestige, likes, and so forth.

Obviously some of these videos have worse origins than others. The upset gecko gaping its mouth at its supposed rival in a mirror isn’t being nearly as badly mistreated as the loris that’s starving to death due to an incomplete or incorrect diet. What’s important is developing a critical eye for this sort of media and learning more about how to assess whether the animals involved are actually enjoying themselves or not.

Here’s some sauce for those of you who want to read further:

http://blog.whyanimalsdothething.com/ – Why Animals Do the Thing is a great start to learning more about animal behavior, which ones are healthy and which ones indicate stress (here’s an especially good post that goes into even more detail about some of these viral videos and photos: http://blog.whyanimalsdothething.com/post/128327199132/animal-science)

http://thehsi.org/2015/04/01/the-cruel-cost-of-cute/ – the Herpetological Society of Ireland explores more about the cruelty behind staged frog photos and more

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/whimsical-wildlife-photography-isnt-seems – more on those staged photos, including some good links throughout the article

http://chimpsnw.org/2013/10/take-action-tuesday-new-childrens-book-exploits-anjana-and-tiger-cubs/ – goes into more detail about how TIGERS and similar organizations exploit wildlife for profit

http://www.rabbitwelfare.co.uk/pdfs/BathingBunnies-RO.pdf – if you absolutely must bathe a rabbit, here’s when and how to do it as safely as possible

Species portrayed: Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), Sunda slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), orangutan (Pongo sp.), tiger (Panthera tigris), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), scrub frog (Rhacophorus sp.), rhinoceros beetle (Dynastinae sp.), domestic rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), tokay gecko (Gekko gecko)