Christian LeBlanc is a 22-year-old UBC student who spent the past semester on an exchange program in Bangkok. He says about two months ago he was travelling through southern Thailand when he came across an elephant sanctuary on the side of the road.
"I see a sign that for 50 cents you can feed the elephant. So my girlfriend and I go and buy a basket of bananas and we start feeding the elephant," LeBlanc told CBC News.
"The elephant loves the bananas, so it kind of gets a bit nosy — it grabs at your hands, it tries to take all the bananas. And once we ran out, next thing I knew it was it was grabbing the GoPro."
LeBlanc says "with one swift movement" the elephant threw its trunk into the air and inadvertently snapped the best photo he's ever gotten.
"I didn't even have time to think. It all happened so fast."
LeBlanc posted the elephant selfie — or "elphie" as it's come to be known — on his Instagram account (christian_leblanc) on Wednesday and within hours it was being shared by media outlets around the world.
"I'm still in shock that it turned out that way. I'm in shock that this story has gone viral. It's been a pretty crazy two days," says LeBlanc.
LeBlanc graduated a couple of weeks ago and is now exploring the Philippines. He says he hopes what people take away from his story is just how easy it is to travel, even on a small budget.
"I guess I'd really like to emphasize that if anyone's interested in doing the things I've done, I can't guarantee an elephant selfie, but it's very easy to make it to this side of the world," he said.
LeBlanc has since managed to snap a selfie with a whale shark near Alona Beach. Though, this time, he was in control of the camera.