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Why I'm A Celebrity Bushtucker Trials are essentially animal abuse

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I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is back on our screens just in time for winter, providing us with the perfect excuse to stay inside every evening so we can revel in celebrities’ discomfort and fear as they battle hunger and Bushtucker trials in an attempt to win food for the camp.


Now remarkably in its sixteenth season, I’m A Celebrity has always been a hit with the British public, cashing in huge viewing figures for ITV One.  However, more recently, the infamous Bushtucker Trials, which are packed full of all sorts of ‘critters’ and animals ranging from cockroaches to the larger crocs and even camels, have been under fire for their ‘use and abuse’ of animals and insects.

In definition, animal abuse includes the intentional and overt acts of violence towards animals but also encompasses neglect and failure to provide for the welfare of an animal under a person’s control.  Psychological harm refers to distress, torment, or terror, and also falls under the definition of animal cruelty.

Oppositely to the celebs who choose to make camp in the Australian Jungle for three weeks, signing themselves up for outrageous trials and challenges, the animals and insects subjected to the Bushtucker trials have no choice in their participation.

The show seems to forget the basic principle that living creatures, and not just the cute and cuddly ones, have the capacity to feel pain and stress.

This series has already seen spiders and grubs struggling to escape celebrities’ mouths, not to mention the buckets of a seemingly endless supply of fish guts that have been dumped over celebs’ bodies.

Perhaps most demonstrative of the stress the animals undergo in the Bushtucker trials has been episode 14’s task in which water-borne animals such as crocodiles and snakes were confined in a small tank with a flailing celebrity, seeing crabs stressed to the point where they were lashing out at the celebrities.

Ignoring the high numbers of fish that must have been killed to provide each series’ supply of fish guts and the animals that have lost their lives to fulfil the ingredients for monstrous smoothies containing bull’s penis and sheep brain, the show’s complete disregard for the animals’ welfare is increasingly hard to ignore.

Throughout the series’ of I’m A Celeb, audiences have watched cockroaches being dropped from large heights, ostriches being chased around a small area, and live insects being consumed on live television.  In 2016, many viewers gaped as winner Scarlett Moffatt ate a live beetle on live TV.

Not only is the exploitation and suffering of animals for mass entertainment inhumane and irresponsible, but everyone – working for the show and at home – seems to be under the false pretence that trained animal handlers are always on hand to prevent any unnecessary suffering on the part of the animals as well as the celebrities.

Unfair and inhumane treatment of animals isn’t a new concern in British and worldwide media.  Most recently, there has been a spotlight on Seaworld after masses of people campaigned against the imprisonment, breeding, and training of orcas for mass entertainment and monetary profit, leading Seaworld to issue an apology and promise to end their breeding of orcas.

 Similarly, there has been increased outrage at blood sports such as dog fighting and fury at the harsh treatment of many horses in intense sports such as horseracing.

If there has been such an outcry over the imprisonment and ‘use and abuse’ of animals, why does the British public refuse to speak up for the hundreds of animals and invertebrates, many of whom are likely crushed in the process of the trials, who are being unfairly used for the mass entertainment of British audiences?

World-renowned PETA organisation has previously criticised the use and abuse of animals on the show, claiming to have written a letter to ITV producers along with other UK animal charities Animal Aid and Viva!, and Chris Packham has also addressed the issue in an open letter, arguing that the trials are reinforcing an awful ignorance and intolerance of remarkable animals, countering the work of natural history programmes.

It’s about time that the British public joins Packham in his call for an end to the ‘inhumane, embarrassing, and destructive aspect of otherwise a great show’.

Quite frankly, the treatment of animals in the Bushtucker trial is cruel and unnecessary.  With many British reality TV programmes flourishing without the need of animals and insects, the refusal of the producers to adapt the Bushtucker trials is uninspired and unwarranted.

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