I'm A Celebrity bosses respond to Chris Packham's comments over 'exploitation' of animals

Chris Packham  (PA Wire)
Chris Packham (PA Wire)

I'm A Celebrity bosses have responded to Chris Packham's attack over the show’s use of animals, which he called an “anachronistic embarrassment”.

The TV naturalist and presenter penned an open letter to hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly in which he called for “no more abuse of animals for entertainment” on the ITV reality show.

Since Packham shared the post to X, formerly known as Twitter on Monday, it has earned over 2million views and gained 25,000 likes.

In light of the commentary to his open letter, ITV has now responded to the 62-year-old’s upset over the use of thousands of live insects and animals in the Bushtucker Trials.

They have insisted that “welfare and safety is always the primary priority” when it comes to animals used by the show and added that they are “in compliance with all regional and national laws in Australia”.

A show spokesperson told The Standard: "We are always fully transparent about our protocols and we have a very strict environmental plan in place on the show.

Packham targeted I'm A Celeb hosts Ant and Dec in his open letter (ITV)
Packham targeted I'm A Celeb hosts Ant and Dec in his open letter (ITV)

"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."

In the letter posted to social media earlier this week, the Springwatch star claimed he had previously written to the presenting duo but they had not replied.

Packham also clarified that he was writing in his own capacity and not as the president of the RSPCA, but claimed the charity received 17,000 complaints about the programme’s “wilful abuse of animals and the negative stereotypes”.

He added: “You may see little to no connection between the global extermination event that humans are precipitating and IACGMOOH but its all about attitudes and education.

“Without a fundamental respect for life, all life, it is difficult for those of us who care to bring enough people on board to initiate essential action to protect and actively restore the worlds wildlife.

“I spend my life trying to engender that respect, your programme recklessly countermands that, and what’s absolutely pitiful, is that is does it for laughs. Just for entertainment.”

He called on McPartlin and Donnelly to announce there will be “no more abuse of animals for entertainment” from 2024 on the show, but an added educational component could “celebrate wildlife and its conservation”.

Packham also requested a percentage of the programme’s profits to be donated to “proactive practical conservation” and for the pair to present a programme highlighting this work.