8 travel selfies you really, really shouldn’t take

A woman has been scratched by a jaguar in an Arizona zoo after vaulting the barriers in place for her protection, and trying to snap a selfie with the animal up against its cage.

Obviously it’s an unfortunate incident, but generally sympathy has been, well, limited. Zoo owner Mickey Ollson told AZFamily.com: “There’s no way to fix people crossing barriers,” adding: “We put substantial barriers there and if people cross them, they can get in trouble.”

Now, we’re not in the business of pointing fingers, but if there’s a moral to the story it’s that some places really, really aren’t the right environment for taking selfies.

Here are a few more locations to steer clear of if on the hunt for Instagram likes…

1. At the tops of cliffs

A whole lotta nope (iStock/PA)
A whole lotta nope (iStock/PA)

The accidents are so well-publicised, the dangers so completely cliched, that we’re honestly surprised people are still doing this. Cliff edges are notoriously unsteady, overhangs are prone to giving way, and two to three people die annually from accidental falls in the Grand Canyon alone.

If you’ve trekked to the top of a mountain, you’ve already got a good view, and an extra metre of danger is not going to revolutionise your trip. It could end it though.

2. At memorials

The entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau: Not appropriate fodder for your Instagram feed (iStock/PA)
The entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau: Not appropriate fodder for your Instagram feed (iStock/PA)

We’re not sure what it is about selfies that feels so frivolously flippant, but there’s something particularly unseemly about snapping your own smile at a site of mourning or remembrance. Do not take a selfie at Ground Zero; do not take a selfie at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial; and do not take a selfie at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

Most of all, do not be the people caught clicking away beneath the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

3. In Amsterdam’s red light district

If the women were in their windows, we would not be seeing this photo (iStock/PA)
If the women were in their windows, we would not be seeing this photo (iStock/PA)

Amsterdam’s red light district has long attracted tourists, and there is a rigorously enforced rule that categorically bans photos with its working women, shopfronts or interiors.

If caught snapping a ‘brothel selfie’ by proprietors, your best outcome is having your camera removed, stamped on, and flung into one of the canals.

4. With wild animals

On a scale of one to ‘Why, oh dear, why?’ (iStock/PA)
On a scale of one to ‘Why, oh dear, why?’ (iStock/PA)

You’ve probably worked out that big cat selfies at the safari park are unlikely to end well, but what about the many creatures that won’t disembowel you in seconds?

Well, it’s still not a good look: Think of the Alaskan mountain goat that drowned after fleeing into the sea to escape selfie-takers, or the endangered baby dolphin in Argentina that was dragged onto the beach for a fatal photo shoot.

Then there’s the tragic tale of ‘Pedals’ the New Jersey bear endlessly harassed, photographed and videoed after injuries left the animal capable only of using its hind paws. In 2016 he was shot and killed allegedly by a trophy hunter.

Sometimes you should ask not what the wildlife might do to you, but what you might do to the wildlife.

5. Sites of worship

Quiet please (iStock/PA)
Quiet please (iStock/PA)

Another simple case of respect: Mosques, Buddhist or Hindu temples, and even some churches, are no-go areas for the irreverent selfie-snapper. Rules and expectations vary greatly – photographing those at prayer is generally out, snapping holy symbols is often frowned upon, and some establishments have banned photos entirely.

Selfies have one particular pitfall – if you watch Buddhist monks at worship, they tend to pray in front of the Buddha and then back away, their faces still focused on the statue. Turning your back on Buddha is a big no-no, rendering selfie taking a little tricky.

6. While driving

For shame, for shame (iStock/PA)
For shame, for shame (iStock/PA)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know full well holding a phone while driving is now illegal, so no one is going to have any sympathy when you get points on your license and a fine. Repeat after me: Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel.

7. Going through airport security

A photo-free zone – except, of course, for this one (iStock/PA)
A photo-free zone – except, of course, for this one (iStock/PA)

You may not know this one, but if you think about it, it makes sense. Many airports across the world do not allow photography of any kind while going through security, and some extend the ban to other areas.

How enforced these rules are varies from airport to airport, but your #jetset Instagram story may have to wait until you’re at the gate.

8. Inside the Sistine Chapel

Sorry, we weren’t allowed to photograph the inside (iStock/PA)
Sorry, we weren’t allowed to photograph the inside (iStock/PA)

It may be one of the most famously #aesthetic spots on any traveller’s itinerary, but photographing the splendour of the Sistine Chapel is strictly forbidden by Vatican authorities.

It’s probably not for the reasons you think. Though artistic preservation and religious hauteur would surely be cited in 2019, the impetus came from an expensive restoration project that started in the 1980s. Even the fabulous wealth of the Vatican couldn’t fund the operation, so the church struck a deal with a Japanese broadcasting company in exchange for exclusive media rights. The deal has now expired, but the rules remain.

- Press Association

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