An Instagram influencer has been forced to apologise after learning that a pair of randy penguins in the back of a 'hilarious' selfie were in fact under "a lot of stress" from tourists.
Steph Elswood, otherwise known as 'Healthy Chef Steph', has over 240,000 followers on the social media platform, where she documents eating healthily and living sustainably.
The Instagrammer and YouTuber racked up over 12,000 likes on a post featuring the copulating penguins during a recent trip to the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony in Cape Town. Crowds of tourists flock to the beach every year to get photos with the colonies of African Penguins which inhabit it.
Elswood called the image her "favourite selfie of all time".
"I was there for about 10 minutes trying to get a good pic next to my new pals Penny and Guin and THEY WERE HAVING SEX THE WHOLE TIME!" she captioned the image.
"I was being too self-absorbed to notice! HAHAHA OOPS."
Elswood and her followers were initially amused by the unorthodox photobomb, with fellow influencer Zanna van Dijk commenting "literally DEAD" and another commenter calling it the best photo they'd ever seen.
"This post made my day," said another.
But Elswood was soon forced to add an apology to the post, after receiving hordes of messages about the stress placed on the animals from tourism.
"I have just been informed that the penguins on Boulders Beach are under a lot of stress due to tourists trying to get too close. I feel guilty that I contributed to that and thought that because they weren't reacting when I got close that they weren't bothered by me," she wrote.
"If you are considering visiting this spot, then please be mindful and ask guards for appropriate distances, because no one told us any of the rules I've been messaged about since posting this.
"I will definitely learn from this for the future and I'm sorry to anyone affected by this post."
Elswood added to Metro that she found it "very difficult" to hear she had put the animals under stress.
"I was very cautious throughout my entire experience at boulders beach. I am an animal lover/vegan and would never want to cause them any harm.
"I also wanted to apologise to the South African residents that are very protective of their wildlife."
The impact of tourists on penguins at Boulders Beach has prompted South African National Parks to publish a "code of behaviour".
The code instructs visitors to avoid penguin nesting areas and asks them to not harass or use selfie sticks near the animals.