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TikTok star Lele Pons accused of animal cruelty over clip of pet crocodile with its mouth taped shut
INFLUENCER Lele Pons is facing fresh controversy after being accused of animal cruelty when she posted a clip of her posing with a baby crocodile with its mouth taped shut.
The Venezuelan beauty, who regularly posts comedy sketches alongside saucy images to her Instagram account, posted the video on Twitter of her swimming in a pool in Florida with the croc.
But in contrast to her usual adoring comments, the 24-year-old was instead accused of animal cruelty due to the tight tape over the croc's mouth and it being placed in a chlorinated pool.
In the footage the pink-haired influencer, who has amassed 43.3 million Instagram followers, is seen posing with the crocodile and resting her head on it in the swimming pool.
Her boyfriend, reggaeton singer Guaynaa, was also seen in the water in the since-deleted clip, holding the reptile, as Lele leans onto him and says: "This is true love right here," before kissing his cheek.
Guaynaa has been the subject of online criticism alongside his singer girlfriend, who boasts over 20 million followers on TikTok.
Pons, who was born in the Venezuelan capital Caracas and moved to the US when she was five years old, posted pictures in June last year showing her swimming with huge alligators as an "early birthday present".
Alongside the underwater snaps, she wrote, "The most amazing experience in the world!! Swimming up close to my #1 favorite animal.
"If you know me, you know how obsessed I am with alligators and their history!"
Users took to social media to express their outrage at the new footage, with one tweeting: "Nothing says entitled like an influencer putting an animal in a chlorinated pool with its snout taped for pictures. @Lelepons you are GROSS."
One user commented: "Chlorine pool? Tape? Lele Pons? This looks so wrong on several levels."
Another wrote: "Influencers be like: I need to abuse this animal that should be in the wild or in a rehabilitation centre for my photoshoot."
'GatorsDaily' wrote: "When they do that, it's usually for safety. It doesn't hurt the gator and helps the handlers take care of them/do vet work, etc. But here it's literally so she can swim around and take photos without the chance of getting hurt."
The croc controversy is the latest development in a long list of blunders involving the social media star.
Pons posted a clip to her Instagram stories of her and at least seven friends in a restaurant with no social distancing measures in place.
In April last year, she posted a clip of herself falling backwards through a glass door while performing a dance routine.
Despite her qualms, she is widely supported and praised for candidly sharing her journey as she battles Tourettes syndrome, depression, ADHD and OCD.
Pons has acted in film, television and music videos such as 'Havana' by Camilla Cabello, as well as co-writing a novel in 2016 titled, "Surviving High School".
She began her career on video platform Vine showcasing her music and comedy routines, and became the first creator to reach one billion loops on the now-defunct platform.
Pons' raunchy music video for her song 'Celoso' released in 2018 has been viewed an extraordinary 335 million times on YouTube.
She currently stars in a YouTube Original docuseries, which shows fans a sneak peak of her personal life titled 'The Secret Life of Lele Pons', as well as hosting her own Spotify-exclusive podcast, 'Best Kept Secrets with Lele Pons.'
It is unclear if Pons faces any disciplinary action for her latest antics.
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