Kendall Jones is a rising teen hunter getting some major backlash aimed her way from animal rights activists and everyday people this week after posting photos of herself next to dead African animals, many of whom are endangered species. Despite these harsh photos, the 19-year-old sees no qualm about her "study." This Texas school cheerleader turned fatal huntress has become a controversial sensation on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and has quite literally stepped into the lion’s den. The Independent reveals news this Wednesday, July 2, of an apparent reality TV show surrounding Jones that could come to fruition, while a viral petition has already been launched online, requesting that the photos be taken down.
Many animal lovers were shocked when Kendall Jones' photos showcasing the beaming teen next to a number of tranquilized or dead animals shot their way to the Web. From performing acrobatics as a cheerleader at Texas Tech to now hunting endangered beasts in the wild, 19-year-old Kendall is one very mobile young woman. Yet her time spent across the sea has prompted a whirlwind of anger and awe online recently after posting the graphic clips to her Facebook page. These troubling images are allegedly her “kills” from a trip to Africa (specifically the country of Zimbabwe) she took earlier this 2014, says the press release; the dead creatures range from lions and cheetahs to elephants and other African animals.
Despite a tremendous petition being signed by over 105,000 people and counting on Avaaz.org, Jones’ disturbing photos — which show Kendall smiling and appearing quite proud to be next to the beasts, including one with an unmoving lion — are still online. What’s more, alleges the source, is that the Sportsman Channel is reportedly interested in creating a reality show that features this teen hunter in it (tentative premiere dates are for January 2015).
The criticism against the teen hunter has caused quite a stir, to say the least. According to updated coverage on this shocking story and its subsequent backlash, the Daily Mail reports that 19-year-old Kendall Jones has since taken to Facebook to defend herself. She does admit to be posing next to the dead endangered animals in the viral photos; however, this described hunter says all the online anger against her is misplaced. Everything was misconstrued, she said, after a long trip to Zimbabwe just last month.
Kendall is saying that although she has hunted animals before, and some of the endangered species in the photos themselves are dead, a considerable number of them were tranquilized for alleged “educational purposes.” Below is one of the status updates the cheerleader turned huntress shared via Facebook, as she explains how she tried to make her experience in Africa one that actually had noble goals:
“What a great experience! Not only am I hunting to conserve these animals and stop the harm they go through from the locals that poach them for no reason but giving back into this community is such an eye opener! Most people say "hunting is fine for food" well, look here are all the people that benefit from this animal! And for all that want to say stuff about hunting is for food all the other animals go to the local villagers that are just trying to get meat! These people only get meat when an animal is shot, they aren't privileged enough to go to the local grocery store and pay $20 for some steaks! And another thing is that this elephant's trunk had been caught in a snare put out by poachers! – Kendall Jones”
Regardless of these reasons, the backlash against this hunter’s photos and her apparent happiness next to tranquilized or dead endangered animals is not sitting well with the national community or animal activists. A majority of messages and comments on Kendall Jones’ posts are critical, while others directly plead with her to listen to the viral petition asking that she take the alarming photos down from the Web. As one social media user wrote:
"Sure . . . Makes plenty of sense to travel to another continent, and slaughter endangered apex predators for fun," one person commented. "Yup, that certainly won't disrupt the local ecosystem or further diminish the already weakening gene pool of these animals."
To say that there aren’t fans of this former cheerleader would be untrue, however. It seems that a fan page of Kendall Jones has also made its way to Facebook. Although it hasn’t received nearly as much support as the petition requesting that she remove the images of her next to the dead or tranquilized endangered animals — her “kills,” as the source quotes — already over 50,000 people have liked the page. This high number shows support is definitely present.
Would you watch a reality TV show that features Kendall on it? It certainly seems that a series featuring this teen hunter would gain a massive viewership — though much of it might be decidedly negative — but the ultimate issue in this ongoing controversy involving Jones’ photos is how endangered animals are portrayed and what we can do to help, not harm, them.