12-Year-Old Girl Faces Online Backlash Over Hunting Photos

Aryanna Gourdin calls getting a zebra her "dream hunt."

ByABC News
August 17, 2016, 7:31 AM

— -- A 12-year-old girl who likes to hunt big game with her father sparked an online firestorm after posting photos of herself online posing with a giraffe and a zebra that she killed with the help of her dad.

Aryanna Gourdin and her father, Eli Gourdin, traveled from Utah to South Africa for a hunting trip last week. Aryanna told ABC News she posted a photo on Facebook of her posing next to the dead zebra with a bow and arrow, along with a caption that read, "One of my dream hunts for sure."

"It's something I cherish and enjoy, and I want other people to see what I experienced," she said in an interview with "Good Morning America."

The trip was one of many the pair have taken with no notice over the past five years, but this time her Facebook postings quickly made her a topic of heated discussion. One photo received over 73,000 comments, with some users are calling her "sick" and an "animal hater." Supporters posted encouraging messages, including one reading, "Let the haters hate! Hunt away Aryanna."

In a post on Tuesday, Aryanna acknowledged the uproar. "My last profile picture was very offensive to others and I have learned my lesson with that pose, I apologize."

Some of the more extreme comments went so far as to threaten her and her father's lives.

"We're proud to be hunters, and we'll never apologize for being a hunter," Gourdin said.

Gourdin maintained that the hunting farm they visited offered the giraffe to for them to hunt because it was a problem animal. "They actually had an older giraffe that was eating up valuable resources other giraffes need to survive," he said.

He also said that the meat from the animals they killed was donated to a local village and will help feed 800 orphans over the next month.

This is one of several recent instances in which hunters have faced vehement criticism online. In July of last year, a Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer, sparked international headlines after posting photos online of a lion known as Cecil that he had killed in Zimbabwe.

Despite the controversy, Aryanna said, she doesn't plan to give up one of her favorite activities.

"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."