• Outdoors Outdoors

Video showing family of tourists walking straight into buffalo herd sparks outrage online: 'Keep your kids away'

"It's not a petting zoo!"

“It’s not a petting zoo!”

Photo Credit: Instagram

Despite efforts to educate the public about giving animals their space, some tourists just keep crowding the wildlife, like one family who got dangerously close to a herd of buffalo at Yellowstone National Park.

The video was shared by the Tourons of Yellowstone (@touronsofyellowstone) Instagram account. "Touron" is a mashup of "tourist" and "moron" — a term for rule-breaking visitors who put themselves, others, and wildlife in danger with their poor choices.

In this case, the choice was to stroll toward a herd of buffalo arranged along a hillside. While the people in the video stay on the gravel path, they trample all over the rule — frequently repeated by Yellowstone staff — to stay 25 yards away from bison at all times.

One couple is even visible leading a small child by the hand, directly toward the animals, which seem nervous and are trying to keep away from the people.

The rule to give these animals space doesn't exist to spoil people's fun. As Yellowstone staff have pointed out, bison are aggressive when disturbed, and an adult bison can weigh up to a ton and be as tall as a grown man. Plus, they're often unpredictable, so a distance that seems safe when they're calm may not be far enough if their mood changes.

Commenters were unimpressed with the decision to move closer to these beautiful but dangerous animals. "Just because there is a path, it doesn't make it safe when animals are present," said one user."

"It's not a petting zoo!" said another commenter.

"The education system needs work," said a third user.

All work to protect the climate begins with respect for nature, and every interaction between people and wildlife is a chance to build that respect and to learn more about the natural world.

When people interact with wildlife in a reckless, abusive, or entitled way, as these tourists did, it makes it harder to form those connections. It's stressful for the wildlife, the bystanders, and the park rangers whose job is to protect this ecosystem; and these incidents endanger both the people who participate and the animals themselves, who might be put down if they injure or kill a human.

Bottom line, crowding animals isn't smart. "Okay, it's one thing to be an adult and throw caution to the wind and risk being maimed or killed," said one user. "But keep your kids away."

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