I'm a celebrity and Bear Grylls: Is it right to use animals for entertainment? Opinion by Rebecc
It’s that time of year again when we all huddle around our television to watch some celebrities tucking into a kangaroo penis or swimming through a tank with a crocodile that’s had its mouth taped shut.
For the millions of people that tune into I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Hereevery night, it’s just a harmless entertainment show. However, now that the 18thseries of the show is about to return to our screens, isn’t it time we thought about the animal abuse that features so heavily in the show?
If you have never seen I’m a Celebritybefore, then you may not be familiar with what a Bushtucker Trial actually is, so let me paint a picture for you. Almost every day, the public votes for the celebrity they would like to take part in that particular trial. The challenges are different each day, but each series usually includes: people putting their body in an enclosure full of insects, rodents or birds, crawling into a tunnel full of rats, holding live animals in their mouths, and eating live insects or animal parts.
For the majority, if you asked someone on the street what they think about using animals for entertainment then most would be appalled. Yet on I’m a Celebrity, it has become completely acceptable to take a crocodile from its natural habitat, tape up its mouth, and put it in a tank of water so that celebrity can swim through it to a win a trial.
In 2009, TV Chef, Gino D’Acampo and Hollyoaks star, Stuart Manning killed, cooked and ate a rat on the ITV show, after being left without meat. Killing animals for entertainment is illegal in Australia, and ITV were fined £1,903. Chief Inspector David Oshannessy, from the RSPCA, said: “The animal was killed for a TV show, that’s not appropriate. The raw footage indicates that, from the first attempt, it took about 90 seconds before it actually died.”
In another particularly shocking task a few years ago, Ferne McCann ate a live water spider by swirling it in glass before chewing it.
This year, three of the contestants (Fleur East, James McVey and Sair Khan) are vegan and are refusing to eat any animal products, which is reportedly causing a crisis for I’m A Celebritybosses. As well as the three vegan contestants, Nick Knowles is also a vegetarian. They could have some trouble persuading some of those contestants to take part in the Bushtucker trials.
Last year there was public outrage when the majority of MPs at Westminister backed a motion suggesting animals do not have feelings. Yet somewhere along the line, we have decided that animals in Australia do not have feelings, otherwise we wouldn’t be using them for entertainment.
I’m A Celebis not the only show on TV that uses animals for our entertainment…Bear Gryllsis also on that list too. Following an episode of the Channel 4 reality show The Island With Bear Grylls,contestants were filmed slashing the throat of a terrified pig. PETA, Animal Aid, OneKind, and Vegetarians’ International Voice for Animals (VIVA) all came together to call on the broadcaster to ensure that such violence is never aired again. The groups sent a joint letter after the show’s producers revealed that the pigs had been shipped to the uninhabited Pearl Islands for the show, specifically for the purpose of being killed and eaten by the contestants.
As the groups note in their letter to Channel Four Television Corporation Chief Executive David Abraham, had the incident taken place in the UK, the contestants could face charges and, potentially, time in prison. The letter goes on to say that torturing and killing animals is a cruel way to attempt to boost ratings and sends an especially harmful message to young viewers, who are greatly influenced by what they see on TV.
“There is simply no excuse for this kind of callous disregard for life”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi. “TV producers and broadcasters can entertain audiences without resorting to cruelty to animals.”
A previous episode of the show saw contestants track down and kill an endangered American crocodile, a species that is protected under the Endangered Species Act – meaning it is against the law to kill, poach or harass these animals in any way.
The 2017 series of I’m A Celebritywas a huge, huge success and became the most-watched programme on ITV last year. Will ITV up the stakes and put more animals at risk for our entertainment? How will the Vegan and Vegetarian campmates react to some of the trials? I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Herestarts back on the 18thof November.