During filming, Clunes himself admitted he was concerned about elephant rides, saying: “I am not sure it’s a fitting occupation for the largest land animal on the planet.”
While many campaigners demanded an apology from ITV, some called for the television channel to remove the show from its catch-up service while others criticised Clunes for promoting animal cruelty.
“Very disappointing to see Martin Clunes involved in elephant cruelty,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“However much he tried to justify the riding of elephants by tourists the truth is the animals are controlled by mahouts with bull hooks.”
Another added: “Is Martin Clunes seriously promoting elephant riding right now?! What the f***?”
A third person wrote: “If you climb up an elephant’s trunk and pull its ears you are condoning the appalling cruelty these poor creatures suffer to entertain ignorant humans.”
Following the backlash, animal welfare charity Born Free has confirmed it has severed ties with Clunes, who had previously been one of its patrons.
“We can confirm that, with much regret, Martin Clunes is no longer a patron,” a statement on the charity’s website reads.
”Born Free has always been opposed to the exploitation of captive wild animals for entertainment and human interactions, including riding elephants.“
Clunes, 57, is no longer listed on the charity’s website as a patron, however a cached web page still contains his testimony praising the charity.
A statement attributed to Clunes states: ”I like to do whatever I can for Born Free whenever I am asked.
“I love the Born Free Foundation, it steps in wherever there’s an animal facing cruelty, abuse or unfairness of any kind... any animal in any place.
“It’s a truly unique resource for wildlife conservation with a knowledge base built on years of work in the field in so many countries with so many different species. You should love it too.”
This isn’t the first time a celebrity has been criticised for elephant cruelty.
Earlier this month, Kim Kardashian West was described as being “cruel” after she shared photographs of herself posing with an elephant during a recent trip to Bali.
Within hours of posting the images, the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star faced a fierce backlash from animal rights campaigners who alleged the photos weren’t taken in a sanctuary because it looked as though the man sitting on the elephant was holding a bull hook.
“This is NOT an elephant sanctuary Kim please don’t make this fashionable to millions of people it’s just not right,” one person wrote on Twitter.
Another added: “Except sanctuaries don’t ride their animals cause it’s cruel. Or tie them up with ropes?”
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