Christian LeBlanc was feeding an elephant when the animal grabbed his GoPro camera, set to continuous shooting, and snapped a photo with its trunk.
The snapshot, which LeBlanc is calling the world's first elephant selfie — or "elphie" — has gone viral after the 22-year-old recently posted it on Instagram.
The University of British Columbia student and his girlfriend were travelling on the island of Koh Phangan two months ago with when they came across a couple of elephants.
LeBlanc says baskets of bananas were being sold for 50 cents to feed the pachyderms, but the elephant quickly became touchy when they ran out of food.
He says he was in shock when the animal grabbed his camera and snapped the picture, and it took him a moment to react.
"Elephants are incredibly intelligent and it definitely makes you wonder if it was a conscious action," he says in an email.
He says he wasn't worried because the elephant seemed quite gentle, despite its size. Luckily, the camera wasn't damaged when he got it back.
LeBlanc still can't believe the worldwide media coverage the photo has attracted.
"The global attention has been a total joy ride. I keep laughing when I see the story reach another outlet or country. To think my unexpected photo would make global news is almost unbelievable."
He jokes that his next goal is to get the attention of comedian and TV host Ellen DeGeneres, adding a hashtag: #elfieonellen.
LeBlanc had been studying abroad as part of a UBC program in Bangkok, but his semester ended two weeks ago and he is now travelling across Asia.
He and his girlfriend Laura Reid, both from White Rock, B.C., are in the Philippines, where he says he's captured another "epic" selfie, this time of a whale shark.