A Russian Instagram influencer is being slammed by animal lovers for posing naked atop an elephant in Bali for a photoshoot. Despite commanding a huge fan following on Instagram, Alesya Kafelnikova, 22, has been facing severe backlash for what animal lovers feel is "insensitive." Interestingly, Kafelnikova is the daughter of former World No.1 tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who won two Grand Slam singles titles, the 1996 French Open and the 1999 Australian Open. .
Kafelnikova posted the photograph over the weekend but has since deleted the post. However, she can be seen posing with the elephant in other photographs uploaded on Instagram. She is currently in Bali with Bali Starz and is one of the top models represented by IMG models.
Slammed by Animal Lovers
Kafelnikova shared the video and images on Saturday, followed by the caption 'Natural vibes'. However, she immediately drew flak from social media users as well as animal groups who felt outraged calling the photos a classic example of 'tragic trivialization'.
In another photo, she also shared a picture with an elephant telling her followers that "to love nature is human nature." However, that didn't help much as several of her 536,000 followers on Instagram called the photoshoot an act of "animal bestiality" and "violation" against the animal. One of the users commented: "Poor elephant. Aren't you ashamed to lie naked on an elephant? This is a living creature. Money overshadows everything."
Even animal right activists slammed her including Save the Asian Elephants calling the post an 'another tragic trivialization'. The clip and screenshots of the post are widely being circulated in Indonesia now,. Bali Tourism Agency Chief Putu Astawa said that he will check to see if the clip was indeed taken on the island. "Let me firstly confirm whether this clip is new or old, whether it was taken in Bali or elsewhere, we need to confirm," Astawa said yesterday.
He also said that tourism in Bali is very much tied to the local culture and the philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, which promotes harmony with God, among people, and with nature. "If there is such a video it surely does not meet the norms that we are promoting as part of tourism in Bali," he said.
A spokesperson from Save the Asian Elephants told the Sun that the Kafelnikova has been insensitive in her act and should have thought twice before going ahead with the photoshoot. "Yet another tragic trivialisation of the majestic Asian elephant when the species is fighting for its very existence against brutal abuse in tourism and human entertainment."
The Sumatran elephant on which Alesya was posing is a critically endangered species and is threatened due to deforestation and degradation of its natural habitat. Kafelnikova, although has deleted the post, has been trying to defend herself. She told local news outlet Detik that the clip was from a shoot to promote wildlife protection.
However, this isn't the first time that the influencer has courted controversy. Kafelnikova, who is a jet setter and has recently been living in Paris, Bali and London, was rumored to have been having a budding romance with 35-year-old advertising agency owner Georgy Petrishin after reportedly meeting at a restaurant. She had also has previously hit back at online articles claiming that she was anorexic, by denying the allegations and said that she is focused on her career.
She also made headlines in January 2020 after, she along with her model friend Ksenia Puntus reportedly suffered injuries after falling out a third-floor window at a building in Moscow where her boyfriend lived.