Chris Packham’s call to Ant and Dec for an end to the abuse suffered by animals during the “out of date” and “barbaric” I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here games has received support from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
“Unlike the celebrity contestants who volunteer to be on the show, animals are not there by choice and deserve more than to be used in stressful and cruel situations in a desperate attempt to boost ratings,” a PETA spokesperson told The Independent.
“Packham is absolutely right to assert that – like the PETA motto says – animals are not ours to use for entertainment. All animals – not just the ones that are considered to be cute and cuddly – want to live free from harm.
“I'm A Celebrity's lack of kindness is matched only by the show's total dearth of creativity, evidenced by the fact that it has repeated the same irresponsible and inhumane tasks for more than a decade.”
The wildlife presenter penned an open response to the TV personalities ahead of the launch of the new ITV series on Sunday.
He said he felt the show taught younger viewers that killing animals for “exploitative 'entertainment' is acceptable” and called it “a shame that I imagine neither of you will want to take to your graves”.
“The problem is that animals such as snakes, spiders, crocodiles, rats and many invertebrates are already misunderstood and thus unfortunately vilified, despite the incredibly important roles they play in the world's ecosystems and our lives,” he wrote for the Radio Times.
“By orchestrating a fear of them among your contestants, I'm afraid you're reinforcing and exaggerating a terrible ignorance and intolerance of these remarkable animals.”
Packham went on to criticise the use of apparent “animal consultants” on the show to give advice about the welfare of the animals used.
He wrote that he could “guarantee” that despite the experts’ efforts to keep them safe, “some animals are harmed during production” because they are “fragile” creatures and are “easily stressed”.
“Or simply killed, as they are in your bushtucker trials,” he added.
“The show has been running for years now. Surely it's time for it to mature, for you to accept that, as pillars of the British broadcasting community, you should put an end to this inhumane, embarrassing and destructive aspect of an otherwise great show.”
ITV have since issued a response to the article in the Radio Times.
“Ant and Dec are the presenters of the show, and as such are not involved with the formatting of the trials, which are devised by the show's producers,” it reads.
“ITV takes animal welfare very seriously and expert handlers are on hand at all times.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time the show has come under fire for apparent animal welfare abuses.
In 2010, Stuart Manning and Gino D'Acampo were charged with animal cruelty after they killed and ate a rat live on TV.
The New South Wales branch of the RSPCA, where I’m A Celebrity… is filmed, criticised the programme for allowing the killing of an animal for entertainment and branded the act “unacceptable”.
However, the charges were later dropped after ITV admitted responsibility for the killing and accepted a £1,660 fine.
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