In 2011, a macaque monkey named Naruto made headlines around the world for taking a selfie with a camera that he had taken from a photographer. The photo went viral and sparked a legal battle over who owned the rights to the image. The story of the “selfie monkey” raises questions about the ethics of animal rights and ownership of creative works.
Naruto, a 7-year-old macaque living in a wildlife reserve in Indonesia, stumbled upon a camera that belonged to British nature photographer David Slater. The curious monkey took several selfies with the camera, including a now-famous image of him grinning at the camera with his tongue sticking out.
When Slater published the photo in a book, it quickly gained international attention and became a viral sensation. However, the photo’s popularity also raised questions about who owned the rights to the image. Slater claimed that he owned the copyright, while animal rights activists argued that Naruto should be credited as the photographer.
The case went to court, and in 2018, a settlement was reached between Slater and the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). As part of the settlement, Slater agreed to donate 25% of any future revenue from the photo to organizations that protect the habitat of crested macaques like Naruto.
The “selfie monkey” case highlights the complex legal and ethical issues that arise when animals interact with human technology. On one hand, animals like Naruto have been known to use tools and even demonstrate creativity in their actions. On the other hand, the exploitation of animals for human entertainment and profit is a serious concern.
In recent years, there has been a growing movement to recognize animal rights and protect them from exploitation. Laws have been enacted in several countries to ban the use of animals in circuses and other forms of entertainment, and many wildlife reserves and sanctuaries are working to protect animals from poaching and habitat destruction.
As for Naruto, he remains a symbol of the complex relationship between humans and animals, and the need to protect them from harm. His “selfie” may have been a happy accident, but it sparked a conversation about the role of animals in our lives and the responsibility we have to protect them.