The RSPCA has once again urged I’m A Celebrity bosses to reconsider including live animals in this year’s challenges.
In a statement, the animal welfare organisation said they were concerned producers would “resort to anti-animal Bushtucker Trials” as part of the upcoming series, particularly after last year’s run, which was the first to be set in Wales.
“Sadly, we know the next few weeks will likely see many live animals on our TV screens put in situations that could compromise their welfare for a quick laugh,” a spokesperson said.
“We’ve urged the production company behind I’m A Celebrity to think again and entertain the animal-loving UK public without resorting to anti-animal Bushtucker Trials.
“Last year in North Wales, we saw animals, including snakes, bearded dragons and toads, put in very concerning situations; while insects were routinely at risk of being crushed and killed.”
They also said that by having various creatures be portrayed as something to be feared and reviled, I’m A Celebrity “portrays animals in a negative light”.
Because last year’s I’m A Celebrity was the first to be filmed in the UK, ITV held talks with the RSPCA in the early stages of planning the show about how animals would be used.
However, a rep for the charity later said they were “really disappointed” by the end product, stating: “We spoke to them about changing the way they use animals along with the change of continent - perhaps introducing welfare-friendly alternatives to animal use in the trials.
“However, we were really disappointed to be told that they would continue to be using animals in this way during this series. We know that many of you, the animal loving public, agree with us and really dislike the use of animals in this way.”
An ITV spokesperson said (via Metro): “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.”
I’m A Celebrity returns on Sunday night on ITV, with 10 new celebrities setting up residence in Gwrych Castle, including Richard Madeley, Kadeena Cox, Louise Minchin and Frankie Bridge.
Producers recently spoke out about what viewers should expect from the new series, admitting they’d introduced “big changes” to make life even tougher for the stars taking part.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.