I’m a Celeb: RSPCA receives record 17,000 complaints about show’s treatment of animals

The current series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! has prompted a record number of complaints to the RSPCA about its use of live animals.

The reality TV show is in its final week, with just six contestants remaining in camp and competing to be named King or Queen of the Jungle. You can see who’s left the competition so far here.

Since it first launched in 2002, the show has been known for its controversial use of animals including insects, reptiles, fish, rats and spiders.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced that they had received more than 17,000 complaints about the show this year, the most of any series.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “Sadly, we are once again seeing many live animals on our TV screens put in situations that could compromise their welfare for a quick laugh.

“We are also concerned at the way the programme portrays animals; it risks trivialising their lives for the sake of light ‘entertainment’.”

An ITV spokesperson told The Independent: “We are always fully transparent about our protocols and we have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show.

“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.

“We inform the RSPCA NSW of all of our activities on the show and they have an open invitation to attend the site at any time. We cannot stress enough that we have rigorous protocols in place to ensure that animals are handled safely at all times, before, during and after any filming has taken place, in compliance with all regional and national laws.”

Before the series began, animal rights organisation Peta sent an open letter to Ant and Dec challenging them about I’m a Celebrity’s treatment of animals.

Babatúndé Aléshé is surrounded by frogs during a challenge (ITV)
Babatúndé Aléshé is surrounded by frogs during a challenge (ITV)

In it, they called on the presenters to resign from the show over the “animal cruelty” involved in the show.

“For too long, you have been complicit in cruelty to animals on the show, and it must end,” the organisation wrote.

“The longer you associate yourselves with this show, the more you send the message to viewers that you think animal abuse is not only acceptable but also entertaining.”

The letter claimed that “public attitudes” towards the use of animals on screen have changed “considerably” in recent years, citing the more than 50,000 people who backed Peta’s petition urging ITV to stop “abusing” animals on the series.

10,000 people reportedly complained to Ofcom in 2021 about the use of animals in the show.

I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! continues tonight at 9pm on ITV.