A Utah preteen is facing serious backlash after sharing photos on social media of herself posing with animals that she and her father had just killed.
Aryanna, 12, and her dad Eli Gourdin are proud big-game hunters who recently took a hunting trip to South Africa.
Aryanna posted a photo posing next to a dead zebra with a bow and arrow accompanied by the caption, “One of my dream hunts for sure.”
She also posted a photo holding up her rifle with a giraffe she had killed.
According to Yahoo News, Aryanna and her dad have taken several of these trips throughout the last five years but these particular social media photos quickly went viral, sparking a huge debate.
Many commenters criticized the Gourdins for animal cruelty, even resorting to calling the child “sick” and an “animal hater” as well as threatening their lives.
i genuinely hope you die of cancer and these animals haunt your afterlife, heartless cunt. @AryannaGourdin— tiinytaylor. | 2 (@DISTlLLED) August 17, 2016
After receiving such passionate responses, Gourdin spoke out to apologize for offending people. “My last profile picture was very offensive to others and I have learned my lesson with that pose, [sic] I apologize,” she wrote.
In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Aryanna explained why she shared the controversial photos in the first place. “It's something I cherish and enjoy and I want other people to see what I experienced," she said.
Aryanna’s dad unapologetically defended their contentious hobby, “We're proud to be hunters and we'll never apologize for being a hunter,” he reportedly said.
In an attempt to put out the fire started by his daughter’s photos, he also claimed that the hunting farm where the photos were taken specifically offered the giraffe for them to hunt because it was causing problems.
“They actually had an older giraffe that was eating up valuable resources other giraffes need to survive,” he explained.
Furthermore, the Gourdins maintain that the meat from the animals they hunted was donated to a nearby village to feed nearly 800 orphans over the next month.
Although Aryanna apologized for any offense she caused with her photos, she has no intentions of giving up hunting for anyone or anything.
“I would never back down from hunting,” she said. “I am a hunter and no matter what people say to me, I'm never going to stop.”
Big-game hunting and poaching for sport have always been debated issues but recently came to the forefront when a Minnesota dentist killed “Cecil the lion” of Zimbabwe last year. He was dubbed a murderer for killing the beloved, famous lion, which shined a spotlight on big-game hunting as a whole.
If the justifications are true that the animals killed by the Gourdins were offered to them on a hunting farm and the meat will, indeed, be used to feed starving children — then, it’s a bit difficult to condemn their behavior.
While hunting as a hobby might be viewed as inhumane, the Gourdins are doing it legally and therefore shouldn’t be attacked by others who simply disagree with their choices.
Besides, threatening their lives and cyber-bullying a child are actions that go far beyond respectable criticism, crossing the line into harassment.
Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @AryannaGourdin