Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Animal group blast "I'm a Celebrity" for exploiting endangered wildlife

Release date: 
Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PRODUCERS of I'm a Celebrity'Get Me Out of Here have been slammed by Europe's largest campaigning vegetarian organisation, for featuring celebrities eating animals on the brink of extinction. Viva! raised concerns as the new series, which started on Sunday evening (November 16) has shown contestants eating a number of exotic animals, including testicles of kangaroo, crocodile eyes and feet, scorpions, cockroaches, silk worms and grubs. The group has condemned the programme for promoting consumption of kangaroo meat and other so called "exotic meats', in the name of family entertainment. New evidence from Australian wildlife experts has revealed some species of kangaroo are on the brink of extinction. According to the group there is also compelling evidence of the cruelty and unsustainable nature inherent in the trade in "exotic meats'. This includes a new report from the Australian Society for Kangaroos (Decimation of an Icon), which shows that several species of kangaroo shot in the wild for meat and leather are on the brink of extinction in wide areas of Australia. More than three million animals are still allowed to be slaughtered every year despite the worst drought in living memory and the result is a collapse of kangaroo populations.* Justin Kerswell, Viva! campaigns manager says: "Advocating the consumption of kangaroo, other "exotic meat' and live animals is unbelievably irresponsible of ITV. While they glamorise animal cruelty kangaroo populations in Australia are plummeting. These animals already have to deal with over-hunting and a killer drought " and now reality TV. What's next' Sending Kerry Katona to hunt tigers in India' 'Earlier this month one of the UK's largest cash-and-carry companies, Booker, stopped trading in ostrich, crocodile and, specifically, kangaroo meat after Viva! alerted them of our concerns. We urge ITV to follow their ethical example and stop abusing the world's dwindling wildlife in the name of entertainment.' For more information about Viva!'s campaign against kangaroo hunting, please call 0117 944 1000 or visit www.savethekangaroo.com. ENDS For more information about this media release, contact press officer Helen Rossiter on 0117 944 1000 or email helen@viva.org.uk. For more on Viva!'s campaign against the factory farming of pigs visit www.piggles.org.uk. Notes for editors Visit www.viva.org.uk/mediareleases/display.php'articlepid=157 to read a media release about Booker dropping the sale of "exotic meat'. *Kill tallies do not include the hundreds of thousands of baby "Joeys', who are clubbed with iron bars or left to die from exposure or predation in the bush. Western Grey, Eastern Grey, Wallaroo and Red Kangaroo populations have plummeted to densities of below five kangaroos per square kilometre " something defined in the Australian government's Murray Darling report as "quasi extinction'. In fact, densities of less than two kangaroos per square kilometre have been identified across 50 to 60 per cent of three states where commercial hunting is allowed. 'Decimation of an Icon' can be viewed online by visiting www.kangaroo-protection-coalition.com/kangaroo-extinction.html. National campaigning group Viva! distinguished itself when it persuaded all Britain's 1,500 supermarkets to drop the sale of kangaroo and other "exotic meats'. It has had a long-running campaign against Adidas' use of kangaroo leather in football boot manufacture. The world's largest uses of kangaroo leather, its advertising was headed by David Beckham, who changed from Predator football boots made of kangaroo leather to those and from synthetics after an intervention by Viva!. Viva! is the largest vegetarian and vegan campaigning organisation in Europe. Founder and director Juliet Gellatley was presented with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council award for services to wildlife in 1998.