In a twist of irony, people’s symbolic vows of undying love are leading to deaths in our national parks.
In a TikTok video posted by Conserve2preserve (@conserve2preserve_), Elijah, the account owner, calls out a popular yet problematic trend among tourists that’s endangering the wildlife that call the parks home.
In this video, they specifically talk about Grand Canyon National Park, though the problem is much more widespread.
@conserve2preserve_ Get a ring instead 😂 #greenscreen #love #grandcanyon #education #littering #litter #pollution #wildlife #parkrangers #nationalparks #outdoors #plasticpollution #graffiti ♬ original sound – Conserve2preserve
As the PSA starts, Elijah talks over a picture of a park ranger holding up several padlocks and a pair of bolt cutters. They explain that people put the locks on fences in the park as a sign of love, throwing the keys into the canyon to symbolize that the bond of love is forever and can’t be undone.
“These are California condors,” Elijah goes on to explain over a picture of the majestic bird, “and they are very, very curious birds, and the way they investigate things that are unusual is with their mouths.”
The birds see shiny metal things such as the discarded keys — or gum wrappers and coins — and investigate them, which, Elijah says, “eventually leads to them swallowing it because they really don’t know any better.”
The statement is followed by an X-ray of a condor that had swallowed some coins.
The California condor is critically endangered and, as Elijah said, doesn’t know any better. We do know better, however, so it is up to us to do better. Animals worldwide — such as the park’s birds, this bear in Colorado, and this whale in Hawai‘i — are dying from ingesting humans’ trash.
Enjoying the parks is a privilege, and interactions with the natural world and wildlife should lead to a desire to protect it, not pollute and imperil it.
With parks such as Grand Canyon National Park making changes like adding electric car chargers, more people wishing to travel consciously may visit than ever. Witnessing careless acts such as littering or approaching animals inhibits others from forging the connection with nature they came to have.
The video’s comment section was flooded with disdain for the troubling padlock tradition.
“I’ve never understood the whole lock thing anyway,” one viewer said.
“Such a simple thing moral of the story stop throwing things away in nature,” another stated.
A third summed it up with words that could have come from the condors themselves, stating simply, “I’m so tired of humans.”
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