Despite decades of warnings from experts like the National Park Service, some people just don’t know how to behave around wildlife.
One exasperated park-goer recently shared a video of several people who seemed oblivious to the fact that they were risking their lives for a photo opportunity in Jasper National Park.
“This, my friend, is a touron,” says Tricia Dorian (@frizzlered) in her video, which was shared by the Tourons of National Parks (@touronsofnationalparks) Instagram account. “Touron” is a mashup of “tourist” and “moron,” used to describe people who do ignorant, risky things on vacation in unfamiliar places.
In this case, the risky behavior was trying to take a group photo with a live, full-grown elk they found grazing in the park.
“We’ve got one, two, three, four of them,” says Dorian, filming from a safe distance as a camera-wielding tourist directs three friends to group together for the shot. “They are literally about five feet away from that elk.”
Luckily for the four tourists, the elk seems more concerned with food for the moment. But as the NPS points out on its website, wildlife can be unpredictable — and an adult elk is a mountain of muscle that can weigh 1,000 pounds or more, with extremely pointy antlers at one end and sharp hooves at the other. Horning in on a bull elk’s personal bubble is not safe. “If you’re close enough for a selfie,” says the NPS, “you’re definitely too close.”
It looked like these four got some great photos. “What a bunch of idiots,” says Dorian.
Sadly, this behavior is all too common. Another group of tourists was recently chased by a mother elk after trying to get a photo op with her baby, and one woman was threatened by a nervous elk in another encounter.
Most commenters seemed more aware of the issues — and also the struggle that those in the know face when educating tourists about what may seem like harmless behavior.
“The wildlife in these videos rarely seem to attack,” one user pointed out. “They must just be habituated to humans and used to having clueless tourons in their space. However, animal behavior isn’t predictable, and one of these days someone is going to end up an elk shish kebab.”
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