GOODBYE DOGGO, HELLO BEARDED DRAGON: INSIDE EXOTIC PETSTAGRAM

WIRED | 1/27/2019 | Emma Grey Ellis
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People love looking at pets on the internet. And that's just as true, if not more so, when said pet is a 100-plus-pound mountain lion that wears hot pink sweaters and lives in your house. Or a stunningly gorgeous red fox that's friends with a dog. Or a caracal (an African wild cat the size of a border collie) that snaps cat toys in its jaws before baring its inch-long fangs at the camera. Or a raccoon that eats blueberries out of a bowl with its foraging little hands. Simply posting their photos on Instagram virtually guarantees you a following in the tens of thousands—if not millions.

Of course, owning and managing a social media account for an exotic or wild pet doesn’t necessarily mean you’re only in it for the likes. Many of these Insta-famous animals are rescues that can no longer survive in the wild. But it does contribute to and drive an exotic pet ethos that exists in a really soupy moral gray area. On one hand, these pets are ambassadors for their species, ginning up positive vibes for animals that often get more negative press. On the other, they may create increased demand for animals better left in the wild—and, through the magic of social media, make caring for those animals seem far easier than it really is.

Animals - Business - Instagram - Kyla - Brennan

Animals are big business on Instagram. According to Kyla Brennan, CEO of animal-influencer marketing agency WAGSociety, having a dog influencer promote your brand will get you 80 percent more comments and almost 30 percent more overall engagement than boring old humans doing it. And those animal influencers hold sway offline as well. “We put 10 Instagram-famous dogs at Netflix’s Benji premiere," she says, "and there was a line around the block.”

The dark side of that success is already creeping in,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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