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New Forest campaigner Chris Packham accuses Ant and Dec of animal abuse on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!

Furious New Forest campaigner Chris Packham has fired off an angry letter to TV presenters Ant and Dec calling I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! a “grotesque blot” on their reputations because of the number of animals killed for the show.

He blasted the reality show, in which contestants including Nigel Farage have to eat parts of animals and do battle with live reptiles and insects.

In his letter posted on social media Chris said of the popular ITV programme: “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.”

Chris Packham has accused Ant and Dec of animal abuse
Chris Packham has accused Ant and Dec of animal abuse

He said he was “sick” of the duo’s “disregard for animal welfare” and claimed falling viewer figures proved the British public were too.

In his letter Chris also told the pair that the show should stop featuring live animal and insect challenges: “Circuses have gone, dancing bears have gone, cock and dog fighting are the sad pleasure of psychotic criminals,”

He called on Ant and Dec to stop the “cruel exploitation of wildlife for gratuitous entertainment” saying it “continues to damage the reputation of the UK as a nation of animal lovers.”

At the end of his letter Chris asked the presenters to become involved in “proactive practical conservation” and urged them to become ambassadors for wildlife charities.

This year’s I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! contestants
This year’s I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! contestants

The naturalist said he was speaking in a personal capacity and not as president of the RSPCA, but the charity has given its backing, pointing out that last year it received over 20,000 complaints of cruelty about the programme.

It is also calling for the show to stop using live animals for its challenges.

In a statement the RSPCA said: "The show's messaging and the potential to prompt people to try and copy the bushtucker trials at home for entertainment is also worrying.

"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."

Talking about Chris’s letter an ITV spokesperson said: “We are always fully transparent about our protocols, and we have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show.

Chris Packham
Chris Packham

“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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