A Russian influencer has apologised after posing naked on top of an endangered elephant in Bali for Instagram likes.
Alesya Kafelnikova, 22, who is the daughter of Russian tennis great Yevgeny Kafelnikov, shared the video last week with her 541,000 followers, with the caption “natural vibes”.
In another post, Kafelnikova posted a picture with the elephant telling her followers that “to love nature is human nature”.
While some followers posted comments such as “for the first time ever, I want to be an elephant”, others were furious.
One fumed on Instagram: “Poor elephant. Aren’t you ashamed to lie naked on an elephant? This is a living creature. Money overshadows everything.”
Another condemned the photo shoot as a “violation” against the animal.
But while Kafelnikova said she was sorry for causing offence, she also claimed her critics mistakenly saw “vulgarity” in “wonderful beauty”.
In a new post, the Russian tried to justify the nude escapade, saying she had made a donation to animals and locals in the Balinese village where she did the shoot.
“It is a pity that people see this as vulgarity, and not as beauty and love for nature,” she said.
“I love animals, I love elephants.
“And I love Bali so, so much.”
Kafelnikova called on her critics to “awaken” in themselves “an aesthetic love for my post and the beauty”.
She wrote in English: “I didn’t have a purpose to hurt the feelings of local people at all.
“We love Balinese culture and respect Indonesian rules.”
But she realised she needed to apologise in the wake of the anger over her pictures, and posted: “Please, sorry if you see something else in this.”
“My intention with these pictures was to show you that I love and respect animals and especially elephants more than anything,” she said.
“I would wish that all those who are so negative will awaken an aesthetic love for my post and you will see the wonderful beauty in it.”
Bali Tourism Agency Chief Putu Astawa criticised the tourist.
He said her shoot, which included a video clip, “surely does not meet the norms that we are promoting as part of tourism in Bali”.
Kafelnikova’s Grand Slam-winning tennis star father has not commented so far.
A spokesperson from the charity Save the Asian Elephants told the SunOnline: “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’.
“Save The Asian Elephants stands for a ban by law on the advertising and sale of unethical venues where these special creatures are commercialised with beating, stabbing and every kind of torture to break them for easy commercial exploitation – genuine sanctuaries only.”
In 2012 the Sumatran elephant was changed from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Critically Endangered’ by the WWF due to deforestation and the degradation of its natural habitat.
Despite Kafelnikova posing on a Sumatran elephant in Bali, where she currently lives, the animal is not native to the Indonesian island. Instead they are kept captive to serve the tourism industry.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
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