Updated: Friday, 15th February 2019 @ 12:37pm

I'm a living creature... get me out of here! Are Bushtucker Trials animal cruelty?

I'm a living creature... get me out of here! Are Bushtucker Trials animal cruelty?

| By Ben Pringle

Well-loved reality television show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! returns to ITV on Sunday evening, complete with the usual collection of dubious showbiz personalities and fear-inducing jungle challenges.

However, the infamous ‘bushtucker trials’, in which contestants eat live insects and get up-close-and-personal with numerous creepy-crawlies, have come under criticism from wildlife expert Chris Packham.

Springwatch host Packham, who found fame presenting children’s nature series The Really Wild Show, has written an open letter to Ant and Dec asking them to end the ‘abuse of animals’ on their show.

Writing in the Radio Times, the 53-year-old naturalist described the trials as ‘inhumane’ and ‘out of date’, suggesting that they influence young viewers to believe that killing for ‘exploitative entertainment is acceptable’.

MM took to the streets of Manchester to ask the public how they felt about the ‘bushtucker trials’, and if they thought the show portrayed cruelty to animals.

Are the ‘bushtucker trials’ on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! televised animal cruelty?

Option Result
Yes 34%
No 66%

Musician Tom Lane, 19, from Wilmslow, had no sympathy for the insects, saying: “I don’t think it’s cruel. They’re just bugs. 

“They’re a delicacy in Australia. That part of the show definitely shouldn’t be stopped.”

Friend and fellow musician Jack Kennedy, 16, from Glossop, could see the injustice of the trials for the animals, but didn’t think the show was being unnecessarily cruel.

“I thought they were bred for the show. I think it’s harsh for them to be bred to be eaten, but then again I don’t think it is animal cruelty,” he said.

20-year-old student Amy Kyle was undecided about her feelings towards the insects, recognising that they would probably end up as food anyway, in one form or another.

The Fallowfield resident said: “It is bad for entertainment purposes to watch someone eat an animal on TV, but they are eaten normally in Australia by certain people.

“Most of the things the celebrities eat are known as delicacies over there so while I think it is bad for entertainment purposes, they were possibly going to get eaten by someone or something anyway – it’s just the food cycle.” 

James Annerson, a 32-year-old insolvency manager from Chesterfield also felt guilty about watching people eat living creatures, but accepted that many people find it entertaining regardless.

“I am a fan of the show. I join in with everyone else when saying ‘Eurgh, that’s disgusting!’, but then equally they are eating life so I suppose in reality it is animal cruelty,” he said.

“The animals have as much right to life as everybody else, regardless of whether it is a witchetty or a worm. In short, yes it is cruelty, but it makes great TV.

“As Ant and Dec say, it is THE eating trial. It’s the one everybody looks forward to as they hope it grosses out the celebrity!”

IT IS THE EATING TRIAL: 'It is cruelty, but it makes great TV', said insolvency manager James Annerson

Stretford musician Tom Barlow didn’t think there was anything wrong with the celebrities snacking on a few insects, and mentioned how eating habits differ all around the globe.

The 21-year-old said: “I see it as just the same as the way we eat chickens. Well, maybe not quite, but there are people who live in certain parts of the world who don’t have a problem with it at all.

“It’s a cultural thing. It’s not harming the eco-system too much, apart from that particular insect obviously!”

James Price, 25, held a similar viewpoint, and suggested that the short duration of the ordeal made the trial more humane for the animals.

The student from Heaton Chapel said: “People in the Far East eat insects, so it’s just a cultural thing. 

“Animals are killed every day for food. I don’t see how it is any different for insects. They’re gone in a second.”

ANIMALS ARE KILLED EVERY DAY: Why should it be any different for insects, questions student James Price

Abbie Grimshaw from Heywood questioned the wider implications, asking why the insects should be offered protection from humans when other animals such as cows and pigs are killed and consumed daily.

“If he [Chris Packham] is saying they should stop eating those animals, then shouldn’t everyone stop eating all animals? No more beef, chicken, or pork…?” said the 20-year-old data builder.

Patrick O’Reilly, a 24-year-old student from South Manchester, took a more scientific view of the topic, saying that humans have devised a hierarchy upon which we judge the importance of animals.

“There is that question when it comes to insects. There is that hierarchical thing about animal life,” he said.

“For example, fish are pretty low down the order! It’s the same with insects. I think we want to draw a line somewhere and stand on one side of the fence.

“With insects, their brains don’t function like ours because they are based on chemicals, so I suppose they might not be seen to be too important. They respond to temperature more than anything else.”

INSECTS' BRAINS DON'T FUNCTION LIKE OURS: Science-loving student Patrick O'Reilly says it's all about the food chain

Hairdresser Antoni Lloyd-Hughes, 22, was much clearer in his opinion of the show. The Bramhall resident said: “It must be animal cruelty if they are unnecessarily eating these things. I feel they should stop as it is just for entertainment.

“If they actually had to survive it would be different. These ‘celebrities’ are getting paid exorbitant amounts of money just to be there, so it is unfair on the animals.”

'IT MUST BE CRUELTY': Bramall hairdresser Antoni Lloyd-Hughes argues it is just for entertainment

Jennifer Fanshawe from Stretford focused on the money being received by the contestants to provide entertainment, and did not believe the show was cruel to animals.

The 19-year-old musician said: “If it’s a challenge the celebrities have got to do it. Money is money, at the end of the day.

“If I got offered £1000 to eat a slug, I would happily do it!”

Main image and inset courtesy of Daryl Fritz, with thanks.