I’m A Celebrity hit with record 17,000 complaints over use of animals in Bushtucker trials

I’m A Celebrity hit with record 17,000 complaints from viewers outraged by show’s use of animals Bushtucker Trials

I’m a celebrity… Get me out of here! has received a record number of complaints about the use of live animals in its Bushtucker trials.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has received 17,000 complaints from viewers about the use of animals in the challenges.

This year’s series of the show saw reptiles, spiders, eels and various other animals used for the trials.

Unimpressed: I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! has received a record number of complaints about the use of live animals in its Bushtucker trials

Celebrities must compete in challenges to win food for the camp, or else have to subsist on a diet of rice and beans.

The show has used animals in its trials since its first series in 2002, but many viewers are unhappy with it.

Celebrities often had to eat animal parts during some of the trials with Katie Price and Kim Woodburn memorably chewing on fish eyes, cockroaches and a kangaroo testicle in the 2009 series.

Last year’s show reportedly saw more than 13,000 complaints about the use of animals, with the RSPCA saying they were “concerned” about the way I’m a Celebrity “portrayed” animals.

Complaints: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has received 17,000 complaints from viewers about the use of animals in challenges

Complaints: The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has received 17,000 complaints from viewers about the use of animals in challenges

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “Unfortunately, we are once again seeing many live animals on our TV screens put in situations that could compromise their welfare for a quick laugh.

“We are also concerned about the way the program portrays animals; risks trivializing their lives in the name of light “entertainment”.

“With people discussing how scared they are and animals portrayed in such a negative light, this program is a far cry from the RSPCA’s vision of a world where all animals are respected and treated with kindness and compassion.

“And now that animal sentience – the ability of animals to experience positive and negative experiences such as pain, suffering or pleasure – has been recognized in UK law, the depiction of live animals to UK viewers in this way on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ out of step with this progressive step back home.

Criticism: This year's run of the show has seen reptiles, spiders, eels and various other animals used for the trials

Criticism: This year’s run of the show has seen reptiles, spiders, eels and various other animals used for the trials

“We have previously called on the production company behind I’m a Celebrity to think again – and entertain the UK’s animal-loving public without resorting to Bushtucker animal testing; and now thousands of supporters have written to ITV Viewer Services to support us.

He said: “It is encouraging that a record 17,000 of our supporters have already written to ITV this year to express their views.

“We believe it is very possible to create this program without compromising animal welfare, so we are calling on everyone associated with ‘I’m a Celebrity’ to rethink and update this show in line with public opinion.”

The RSPCA believes that – in addition to causing animals to suffer – the program risks portraying animals negatively, which could lead viewers to develop negative perceptions of certain species.

Trials: Celebs must compete in challenges to win food for the camp, or else subsist on a diet of rice and beans

Trials: Celebs must compete in challenges to win food for the camp, or else subsist on a diet of rice and beans

Responding to the complaints, an ITV spokesperson said: “We are always completely transparent about our protocols and have a very strict environmental plan on the show.

“As a production, we comply with all regional and national laws regarding the use of insects, animals and reptiles.

“Welfare and safety are always the top priority in any of our programs and for every Bushtucker trial that involves animals, we have qualified and experienced animal workers on site at all times.

“We keep RSPCA NSW informed of all our activities at the show and they have an open invitation to attend the site at any time.

“We cannot stress enough that we have strict protocols in place to ensure that animals are handled safely at all times, before, during and after any filming, in accordance with all regional and national laws.”

ITV said in response:

ITV said in response: “We cannot stress enough that we have strict protocols in place to ensure that animals are handled safely at all times, before, during and after any filming, in accordance with all regional and national laws.”

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