Ant and Dec told to end ‘appalling abuse of animals’ on I’m A Celebrity

Presenter Chris Packham has written to Ant and Dec to call out the “appalling abuse of animals” on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!.

Packham, who is president of the RSPCA, shared the document on X (formerly Twitter), saying he had “tried to be polite” but his patience had “run thin”.

The animal welfare campaigner said that having not received replies to his previous letters, he decided to be “more frank and forthright”.

In his message to I’m A Celebrity hosts Ant and Dec, Packham described the ITV show as an “anachronistic embarrassment” and a “grotesque blot on the reputations” of the channel and the presenters.

He claimed it “doesn’t appear to give a s***” about the welfare of animals used on the show, and that it makes light of endangered species and the climate crisis.

On the programme, which is in its 23rd series, contestants have to undergo tasks while being covered in insects, spiders and rats.

Ant and Dec. Pic: AP
Ant and Dec have not commented publicly on Chris Packham’s letter. Pic: AP

In his letter, which Packham said he wrote in a personal capacity, he called for “no more abuse of animals for entertainment”, and for their involvement to be replaced by an “educational component which will celebrate wildlife and its conservation”.

The RSPCA has a separate campaign that calls for the show to stop using live creatures.

The charity claims the programme has seen animals “dropped, thrown, handled roughly, crushed, chased and scared by contestants”.

“The show’s messaging and the potential to prompt people to try and copy the ‘bushtucker trials’ at home for entertainment is also worrying,” it adds.

“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.”

The charity said more than 20,000 people “took action” to complain about the use of animals on I’m A Celebrity last year.

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September: Chris Packham tells of ‘grave concerns’ for UK wildlife

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An ITV spokesperson told Sky News: “We are always fully transparent about our protocols and we have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show.

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

“Welfare and safety is always the primary priority on any of our programmes, and at any bushtucker trial that features animals, we have qualified and experienced animal handlers on site at all times.”

Ant and Dec are yet to comment publicly on Packham’s letter.

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