ITV's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here - why we're concerned for animals
We have serious concerns about the welfare of animals set to be featured on the new UK-based 'I'm a Celebrity' TV show, airing this Sunday.
Why we're concerned for the animals used in the programme
Since 'I'm a Celebrity' was first aired, animals have been dropped, thrown, handled roughly, crushed, chased, overcrowded, scared by contestants and prevented from escaping from stressful experiences. There have also been incidents where animals have been killed for no other purpose than entertainment.
The show's messaging and the potential to prompt people to try and copy the 'bushtucker trials' at home for entertainment is also worrying and we feel that deliberately portraying certain species as nasty or frightening or as objects that can be used purely for entertainment rather than sentient, living creatures sends out totally the wrong message.
What we've done in the past to try and change things
Throughout the years, we've been raising our concerns with the production company about how animals were being treated on the Australia-based programme, but we never received a response from the show.
We were very pleased when the show's production company got in touch with us in the planning stages of this year's series, set here in the UK. We spoke to them about changing the way they use animals along with the change of continent - perhaps introducing welfare-friendly alternatives to animal use in the trials. However, we were really disappointed to be told that they would continue to be using animals in this way during this series. We know that many of you, the animal loving public, agree with us and really dislike the use of animals in this way.
What we're doing about it
We'll continue to urge ITV and the production company to rethink the way they use animals in I'm A Celebrity and replace the challenges with animal-friendly alternatives. We'll be watching the programme and will flag up any concerns we have to the producers.
Unfortunately, a number of the animals used in the challenges, such as cockroaches and crickets, are invertebrates and aren't covered by the Animal Welfare Act or the Performing Animals Act, which apply in Wales. This means they have little protection under the law. However, if we're alerted to concerns about other animals which are covered by these laws being caused suffering or distress during this programme, we'll look into this, and, where appropriate, investigate. Where we can act, we will.
What you can do to help
The best way to take action if you're unhappy about anything you see on television is to contact Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator. You can also contact ITV directly to voice your concerns for animal welfare on their programme.