Chris Packham’s blistering attack on I’m A Celebrity gains momentum as he blasts ‘insects are being killed and animals ridiculed for entertainment’
Chris Packham’s protest to stop the use of animals on I’m A Celebrity has gained momentum after his impassioned open letter to show hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly.
The Springwatch presenter, 62, appeared on Sky News on Wednesday after his public letter criticising the show’s ‘exploitation of animals’, posted on X, gained 25,000 likes.
Chris told Kay Burley: ‘In a programme that has been broadcast to a very large audience in the UK – a nation of animal lovers – animals are being exploited and abused, just for entertainment, just for laughs.
‘That’s something which is undeniably outdated. We’ve got rid of circuses, got rid of bear-baiting. Dog fighting, unfortunately, might persist in some circles.
‘We don’t use animals for entertainment anymore. Even when I was growing up in the sixties, we had chimpanzees dressed up for tea parties. It’s all gone.’
Chris Packham’s protest to stop the use of animals on I’m A Celebrity has gained momentum after his impassioned open letter to show hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly
The Springwatch presenter, 62, appeared on Sky News after his public letter criticising the show’s ‘exploitation of animals’, posted on X, gained 25,000 likes (pictured Nella Rose)
Chris asked: ‘Why is this persisting on this one programme?
‘There are plenty of other ways that they could test their participants in difficult trials which could be equally amusing. The animals could easily be replaced.’
While Chris acknowledged eating live insects during the eating challenges has now been fazed out, many more were being killed needlessly from being trampled on or crushed in Bushtucker Trials.
He said: ‘Certainly when it comes to live animals, ITV are very keen to say that they have inspectors and handlers on site who make sure the laws are being applied when it comes to the treatment of those animals.
‘I suppose there are plenty of us that say the laws aren’t strict enough and the animals shouldn’t be treated in this way.
‘These laws generally only apply to the like mammals and some of the reptiles. The invertebrates don’t seem to be protected by any of that. Many of these are being killed for the show.’
Chris added: ‘It’s not helpful when we are in the middle of a biodiversity crisis. Many of us are trying to protect life, not ridicule it, exploit it.’
While Chris acknowledged eating live insects during the eating challenges has now been fazed out, many more were being killed needlessly from being trampled on or crushed in trials
ITV previously responded to Chris’ outcry over the use of thousands of live insects and animals in the Bushtucker Trials
Chris revealed he was running out of patience as he hit out at the ‘appalling’ animal abuse being shown nightly at 9pm on ITV in his open letter
Chris shared the open letter with the presenters on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday in which he branded their hit ITV show ’embarrassing’
ITV previously responded to Chris’ outcry over the use of thousands of live insects and animals in the Bushtucker Trials.
A spokesman said that ‘welfare and safety is always the primary priority’ when it comes to animals used by the show and they are ‘in compliance with all regional and national laws in Australia’.
ITV added in a statement to The Sun: ‘We have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show.
‘Welfare and safety is always the primary priority on any of our programmes.
‘At any Bushtucker trial that features animals, we have qualified and experienced animal handlers on site at all times.’
MailOnline has contacted ITV for comment.
So far this series, viewers have watched the celebrities be deluged in a whole host of creepy crawlies, fight off mud crabs and yabbies underwater and lie in boxes filled with dozens of snakes.
Chris, who has long criticised the show, called out hosts Ant and Dec for not replying to his previous correspondence in his open letter.
He began his note: ‘Dear Ant and Dec, I hope you are both in good health. I have written to you before but you have never replied so I thought I’d write again.
‘My letters were polite, reasonable and constructive. This time I’II be a little more frank and forthright.
‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ remains a grotesque blot on the reputations of both yourselves and ITV.
‘Its continued exploitation of animals for entertainment is an anachronistic embarrassment and betrays a dangerous disconnect between a world increasingly concerned with an environmental crisis, and a reckless and marginalised part of the media which doesn’t appear to give a s**t.’
Toads were used in the Bushtucker Trial Fishy Business earlier this week
Last year, the show received a record number of complaints over the use of live animals in its Bushtucker Trials.
The RSPCA received 17,000 complaints from viewers over animals being used in the challenges.
Chris spoke of this as he continued: ‘I write in my own capacity, not as the President of the RSPCA, but I can tell you that last year the charity received 17,000 complaints about your willful abuse of animals and the reinforcement of negative stereotypes.
‘I and all those people, many of whom I have no doubt will be fans of yours and of the work you have done and do, are sick of your perceived disregard for animal welfare and the way that we feel about it.
‘You may see little or no connection between the global extermination event that humans are precipitating and IACGMOOH [I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!] but its all about attitudes and education.
‘Without a fundamental respect for life, all life, it is difficult for those of us who care to bring enough people on board to initiate essential action to protect and actively restore the worlds wildlife.
‘I spend my life trying to engender that respect, your programme recklessly countermands that, and what’s absolutely pitiful, is that it does it for laughs. Just for amusement.
‘Twenty eight percent of the worlds monitored species are threatened with extinction. Is that funny? Is that a laugh?
‘Well maybe you just don’t care? But Declan, in 2019 I asked you to please think about how your daughter will perceive your actions as she grows into a world increasingly devoid of wildlife… What did she say?
‘That was four years ago, what is she saying now, aware I’m sure that her future is seriously imperilled by climate breakdown and biodiversity loss?’
Chris continued on a second page: ‘But it’s also about money isn’t it. In March the TV channel and on-demand service reported studio revenue of more than £2b and I’m told that IACGMOOH is the biggest single banker for ITV. A Google search also suggests that your highest paid participant this year will receive £1.5 million. Speculative figures for your own earnings are also widely published.
‘But in November 2022 a peak of 10 million, and average of 9.1 million, watched the launch episode. This year that dipped to a peak of 7.8 million, and an average of just seven million ummmm, maybe your viewers need a change of format… so…
‘Look at the world, listen to the voices of concern, read the writing on the wall. Circuses have gone, dancing bears have gone, cock and dog fighting are the sad preserve of psychopathic criminals… we have no performing dolphins in the UK and no chimpanzees dressed up for tea time.
‘The cruel exploitation of wildlife for gratuitous entertainment on your programme continues to damage the great reputation of the UK as a ‘nation of animal lovers’.
‘To conclude, how about you announce now that from 2024 there will be no more abuse of animals for entertainment; that instead there will be an educational component which will celebrate wildlife and its conservation; that a percentage of the programmes profits will go to proactive practical conservation, and that you will present a programme to highlight that work (I’ll loan you my binoculars) and that you will both agree to be ambassadors and influencers for prominent wildlife charities? Yours Chris Packham.’
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