Cache County girl’s safari hunt leads to death threats on social media

Posted at 10:10 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 08:20:24-04

CACHE COUNTY, Utah -- A 12-year-old Cache County girl is getting death threats over pictures of a recent hunting safari.

Aryanna Gourdin went to South Africa with her father last week and when they got home from the trip this week they were facing a social media storm.

Pictures show a gun resting on a giraffe while Aryanna poses next to the animal.

The 12-year-old posted pictures of her big game targets taken last week during what she and her father call their dream hunt. 

Overnight, the photos circulated online sparking outrage around the world.

“The next morning we woke up and I looked at her Facebook page and she had 24,000 Facebook followers and I was like, ‘Oh my heck, what just happened,’” Eli Gourdin said, Aryanna’s father.

Death threats and vulgar language overtook the comments on Aryanna's hunting page, Braids and Bows. 

Her father read the violent words directed towards his daughter.

“To say she deserves to die for shooting a giraffe, I think, is a little extreme,” Gourdin said.

The father and daughter say the problem is the lack of understanding for what hunting does for conservation.

“The conservation efforts and what it means for the survival of the species. The giraffe she hunted was nowhere near extinction,” Gourdin said.

Aryanna and her father say they watched as the giraffe and zebra meat from their hunt was donated to local villages.

They said the costs of the hunt go towards conservation efforts.

Facts the family says those behind the keyboard don't understand.

“I try not to read them, I try not to let them get to me. I’m a hunter and anything they say I’m not going to let it get to me and make me not want to hunt anymore,” Aryanna said.

A picture that's not going online was the moment Aryanna paid respect to the animal after the fatal shot.

“It was just a moment of silence,” she said.

The family has hunted big game all across the world and soon the giraffe and zebra will make their way here into their home. 

They say each of these animals are more than just trophies.

“They're more than that, they're memories; every single animal will have a story and it’s something we'll pass on to generation to generation,” Gourdin said.

However, the family is concerned about the threats.

“I'd hope people aren't as shallow as that, that they value the animal’s life over hers or over any animal for that matter,” Gourdin said.

It won't stop them from doing what they love.

“It doesn't make me want to back down. I’m never going to back down from hunting,” Aryanna said.

The family says they have had overwhelming support from the hunting community.