Dear I’m A Celebrity… It’s Time To Stop Abusing Animals

It’s that time of year again when we all huddle around our television to watch some celebrities we’ve probably never heard of tucking into a kangaroo penis or swimming through a tank with a crocodile that’s had its mouth taped shut.

For the millions of people who tune into I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! every night, it’s just a harmless entertainment show. After all, what could Ant and Dec possibly do wrong? However, now that the 17th series of the show has started on TV, isn’t it time that we thought about the animal abuse the features so heavily in the show?

If you’ve never seen I’m a Celebrity before they you might not be familiar with what a Bushtucker Trial actually is, so let me paint a picture for you. Almost every day, the public votes for the celebrity they would most like to do that particular trial. The challenges are different each day, but usually each series will include things like: people putting their body in an enclosure full of insects, rodents or birds, crawling into a tunnel full of rats, holding live animals in their mouths, and eating live insects or animal parts.

If you were to ask anyone on the street what they think about using animals for entertainment then most would be appalled. Yet on I’m a Celebrity, it has become perfectly acceptable to take a crocodile from its natural habitat, tape up its mouth, and put it in a tank of water so that Wayne Bridge can swim through it to a win a trial. In another particularly shocking task a few years ago, Ferne McCann ate a live water spider by swirling it in glass before chewing it.

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Just last week, people in the UK were outraged when the majority of MPs at Westminster voted that animals do not have feelings. Yet somewhere along the line we’ve decided that animals in Australia don’t have any feelings otherwise we wouldn’t be using them in this completely unacceptable way.

The latest series of the show has only been on air for a few days, but last night two celebrities tucked into a dinner consisting of fish eyes, a sheep anus, a pig brain, cockroaches, an ostrich foot, meal worms, and even a huntsman spider. We don’t know what will be in store for the other poor animals involved in this series, but if it’s anything like the previous ones then we do know that hundreds of animals will be hurt, crushed, or eaten alive.

It’s not only time that I’m a Celebrity stopped this animal abuse, but it’s also time we all started to rethink our attitudes on how much animals should suffer just for our entertainment.
You can also read this blog on the Huffington Post here

5 reasons why we shouldn’t be celebrating Edinburgh Zoo’s new panda

If you live in Scotland, then you’ll be aware how crazy everyone goes over the news of a possible panda cub at Edinburgh Zoo. On Thursday, I got a call from a journalist at The Sun on my way home from work looking for a quote as news broke that one of the pandas was about to give birth. The story was all over the news by the time I got to work on Friday, but OneKind released a comment on the story which you can read here and this lead to me being interviewed on Kingdom FM and then I did my first ever TV interview for STV. Here’s a picture of me getting filmed ‘working’ at my desk.

I also wrote a blog for OneKind’s website which you can read below –

5 reasons why we shouldn’t be celebrating Edinburgh Zoo’s new panda

It’s been almost seven years since giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian arrived at Edinburgh Zoo on a 10-year loan from China. Since then, the possibility of a panda cub being born at the Zoo has been one of the biggest news stories in the country with every step of each failed pregnancy attempt splashed across the media.

The decision to try and impregnate Tian Tian has very little to do with conservation, and is nothing more than a PR exercise to attract more visitors to the zoo. Here’s five reasons why we shouldn’t be so quick to celebrate the impending birth from one of the UK’s only giant pandas.

1. These pandas will spend their whole life in captivity
You just have to look at the panda enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo to realise it is no substitute for a life in the wild. After all, how many animals in their natural habitat sit behind a glass wall while a constant stream of visitors take photos of them? The main goal of captive breed programmes should be to release them back into the wild, but this is very difficult with pandas. In the past, captive bred pandas have been attacked by wild pandas when they’ve been released. It means the majority of animals will end up living their whole life being shipped between zoos around the world.

2. Artificial insemination is invasive
When pandas breed in the wild, they are free to choose a mate for themselves but Tian Tian hasn’t been allowed to do this. She has had to undergo multiple invasive artificial insemination procedures over the years, in a desperate bid by Edinburgh Zoo to impregnate her.

3. We need to stop using animals as entertainment
In the past few years, there’s been a noticeable change in people’s attitudes to animals being used in entertainment. The documentary Blackfish, about the controversial capture of killer whales, is a notable example of that. There was public outcry when it was released in 2013, and people started to boycott Sea World attractions. So why is one black and white creature’s life seen more important than another? Giant pandas are still wild animals being held in captivity. Yet for some reason, we still seem to think it’s normal to look at them from behind a glass wall in a zoo.

4. Breeding in captivity will not help conservation
It’s true, breeding in captivity will not help conservation. Instead of spending money on breeding giant pandas in zoos, the money would be much better spent on preserving their threatened habitat. I know people in Scotland will be excited about the prospect of being able to see a new baby panda in Edinburgh, but its illogical to think that paying to see an animal in a cage on the other side of the world from its natural habitat will help conservation. There’s lots of great conservation charities that your ticket money would be much better spent on.

5. Keeping wild animals in captivity is dangerous
There have been several incidents in zoos around the world where wild animals have attacked people. Three visitors were mauled in Beijing Zoo over a three-year period after failing or jumping into giant panda enclosures. Last year, Edinburgh Zoo has its own dangerous incident when a leaked email and CCTV footage revealed a member of staff was put at risk when a giant panda made its way into the enclosure before she was finished cleaning it. The email also went onto suggest the animal could have escaped to public areas of the zoo too.