A dolphin died after it was taken from the sea and paraded around a beach so tourists could take selfies with it.
Pictures have emerged of the small mammal on an Argentine beach being handled and passed between tourists like a trophy.
Moments later, the dolphin's lifeless body can be lying on the sand.
The small dolphin surrounded by dozens of people on the Argentine beach
The La Plata dolphin, also known as the Franciscana dolphin, was found on the beach resort of Santa Teresita in the north-eastern Buenos Aires Province.
Its thick, fatty skin provides the animal with heat, so removing it from the water can cause the mammal to rapidly dehydrate.
Wildlife charities said that the dolphin's death highlights the need for better public awareness as to how wildlife should be treated.
Alyx Elliott, Head of Campaigns at World Animal Protection, said: “This is a tragic and senseless death which is sadly indicative of some people's focus on obtaining a perfect animal selfie rather than thinking of the animal’s welfare.
“If you can pet it, ride it or take a selfie with it then the animal is likely to be suffering.
“Wild animals belong in the wild and the beachgoers should have immediately called for help in returning this poor baby dolphin to the ocean, not passed him around like a photo prop.”
Tourists can be seen handling and petting the small mammal
Daniel Turner, the Born Free Foundation’s responsible tourism spokesman, said: “The sad news of the death of a young La Plata dolphin, taken from the Argentine sea and handled by numerous beachgoers, demonstrates the need for better public awareness about the threats to wildlife and best practice guidance to safeguard wild animals impacted by tourism.
“Viewing wildlife in the wild is by far a more rewarding experience than viewing wild animals in captivity but it is vital that people respect the wildlife and their needs, observing them at a distance and not interfering in their daily lives.
“The Born Free Foundation works directly with travel businesses to influence and encourage responsible practice where animals are involved in tourism experiences.”
The dolphin later died after being out of the water for too long
Wildlife tourism has become an area of increasing concern.
Witnesses said that shortly before the attack the elephant, named Golf, had appeared upset and refused to follow the instructions of the mahout who hit him several times with a bullhook.
Since the incident, Golf has been filmed shackled to a tree, showing clear signs of distress.
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