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Record numbers back RSPCA’s Ofcom campaign on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here's animal use in trials

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More than 12,000 people have joined an RSPCA campaign to stop the use of live animals on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!

The RSPCA, which has urged people to complain to Ofcom, said it was overwhelmed by the level of support for its campaign — emphasising the concerns that exist about the use and portrayal of animals in the ITV reality show.

Supporters can email Ofcom about their concerns via the RSPCA website here.

RSPCA. (53686932)
RSPCA. (53686932)

RSPCA welfare experts closely monitored this year's show and saw a large number of Bushtucker Trials featuring the use of live animals.

The RSPCA said animals like rats, lizards and snakes are likely to have been subject to stress while being surrounded by screaming, panicked celebrities in small, confined spaces as part of trials.

Different species of animal like snakes and rats were placed in close proximity during trials, which the charity said potentially causes significant stress to both species.

rat (53273011)
rat (53273011)

Trials often took place outside and with temperatures having dropped over recent weeks, the RSPCA is also concerned this environment was unsuitable for animals such as lizards and snakes which cannot produce their own body heat. It was unclear whether suitable sources of heat and light were used.

Invertebrate animals, not covered by the Animal Welfare Act, are also routinely at risk of being crushed during trials — something the RSPCA said risks trivialising the lives of animals.

Dr Ros Clubb, from the RSPCA's wildlife department, said: "We're overwhelmed by the response from the public to our campaign against the use of live animals in the I'm a Celeb show.

"More than 12,000 have already written to Ofcom to express concern with the reaction from the public even stronger than last year, when the programme was filmed in North Wales for the first time.

"Recent weeks have once again seen many live animals put in situations that would compromise their welfare for nothing more than a quick laugh — and once again we've been really worried about what we have seen.

"Naturally solitary species have been grouped together in confined spaces, different species have been mixed in stressful situations, animals have been put into confined spaces alongside panicked celebrities and thousands of insects, and other invertebrates have been poured on top of campers and risk being crushed.

"The way insects and other animals are used also trivialises the lives of these animals — at a time when debates around animal sentience are more prominent in society than ever before.”

Previously, the RSPCA wrote to the production company behind the show urging them to stop using live animals, and instead entertain the animal-loving UK public without resorting to animal-related Bushtucker Trials.

This series has now finished but could air again next year.

Dr Clubb added: "We continue to call on those behind this programme to update, re-think and modernise so we no longer put animals in these situations. The response to our campaign shows a huge number of people across the UK agree with us."

An ITV spokesman said: "The team at I’m A Celebrity have many years of experience in producing the show and have rigorous protocols in place to ensure that animals are handled safely before, during and after filming, in compliance with animal welfare law. Welfare and safety is always our primary priority."

The programme aired at a time when legislation is going through parliament to fulfil a UK government pledge to recognise animal sentience in UK law. There are calls for the Welsh government to do the same too.

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