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City Weekend

Put down your mobiles and embrace an animal, selfie king urges Hongkongers

Allan Dixon has attracted a mass following with his humorous photos, but his real aim is inspiring people to reconnect with wildlife

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2017, 2:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 June, 2017, 2:41pm

The floor is burning hot under the strong sun, but that does not stop traveller Allan Dixon from lying down with four dogs in a Hong Kong dog park for a selfie.

From kangaroos and quokkas to camels and tiny birds, Dixon, “the animal selfie king”, regularly captures hilarious moments with his camera and has about 440,000 followers of his Instagram account.

Watch: Dixon shares tips on selfie with animals

Chasing puppies in the park at Ap Lei Chau on a recent Tuesday, the energetic 30-year-old Irishman said he could not imagine his life without animals, because they gave him unconditional love.

“You can look at them and there won’t be any awkwardness. You can also just give them a hug, and they will really appreciate it,” the self-proclaimed animal whisperer said. “If they weren’t here, you wouldn’t have the gratitude and unconditional love.”

The engineering graduate first became a social media sensation in 2013 by wining the Best Job in the World Competition organised by the government agency Tourism Australia. Dixon, as an Outback adventurer, was paid to tour the country for six months, blog about his experiences and showcase the beauty of the country to the world.

That was when he took his first animal selfie, which led to many more creative shots and eventually went viral online.

 

I told the lemur that he only got 10 likes on his last photo. Lets cheer him up this time. #DaxonsAnimalSelfies

A post shared by Allan Dixon - Adventurer (@daxon) on Mar 16, 2017 at 11:37pm PDT

“I was on a farm in the Outback and I saw a camel and start taking pictures of it. But then it got curious and started coming up to my camera. It got so close that it wouldn’t fit in the photo.

“So I just flipped the camera around and took a selfie instead, because it seemed like the right thing to do, ” Dixon laughed. “And ever since I uploaded that, people thought it’s really funny. I kept uploading more and more selfies for the last three-and-a-half years.”

But to Dixon these creative shots are more than just social media attractions.

“When you put a human face besides the animal, you actually create a connection. People can relate to that photo. You actually create an emotional attachment of, in this case, joy and happiness.

“It’s been inspiring to see people reconnect with wildlife, go out there in the environment, get out their offices and not be stuck with their computers or phones.”

Dixon said he wanted to help Hongkongers fall in love with animals through his photography, as he noticed the city had thousands of stray dogs and cats. He believed people here were too busy and had less time for their pets.

And while on holiday in Hong Kong, he is spending part of his time with rescued dogs at the non-profit Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR).

Dixon said he came across the charity through a friend in Hong Kong and eventually donated his free time there for volunteer work.

“The charity has 620 dogs for adoption now and is feeding them every single day. Having seen this with my own eyes, I believe so much in them. I gladly donated my free time and helped them in any way to raise awareness.”

 

Goat yeah Just kidding around! #DaxonsAnimalSelfies

A post shared by Allan Dixon - Adventurer (@daxon) on Apr 8, 2017 at 1:47am PDT

HKDR is a no-kill charity that saves animals from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department’s animal management centres, where thousands of abandoned and stray animals are euthanised within days.

“I know it’s a lot of resources having to feed the animals and take care of them. But, to be honest, the animal kingdom is just like us. There’s a life in them and you can’t just kill something for the fact that they existed,” Dixon said.

“I just wish people weren’t so busy with their lives and being glued to a phone but would actually find happiness and joy by taking an animal instead.”