Concerns have been raised as to whether ITV show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here is safe for the environment. Conservatives have warned that the welsh countryside, where the show is filmed, could be permanently damaged should any of the live animals used escape into the wild. The show uses animals such as cockroaches, whip scorpions, mealworms and crayfish.
Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife says it could have a ‘’range of invasive potential’’ should the animals escape from Gwrych Castle. He added “Anyone who’s ever shared a mosquito net with a mosquito knows that size isn’t everything.”
If any of these species were to naturalise, we could have severe problems. And we do have a history in this country of invasive species which have caused enormous ecological damage.” TV presenter Chris Packham said.
Due to Covid-19 the show needed to be filmed in Wales. Usually the show is filmed in Australia and the animals are native to the land it is filmed on. ITV reaffirm that the animals “are only ever released in a contained area and collected immediately after filming”
Packham has said that he has written to Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly every year asking them to stop using live animals on the show. He believes that there are many other ways to make celebrities uncomfortable that do not involve animal abuse. “We don’t need very popular television programmes demonising, stereotyping and abusing animals which are key components to any ecosystem.”
In the UK there are around 2,000 examples of invasive species one of which being Canada geese and grey squirrels. Red squirrels were once widespread in the UK but are now near threatened in England, Wales and Northern Ireland due to the introduction of grey squirrels in the 1870s. If any creatures where to escape from the castle it would be very hard to find out which would become invasive and infect the environment. Tropical species would be unlikely to survive a British winter, but many cockroaches live indoors in the UK in basements and cellars.
A spokesperson from the Woodland Trust, who manage an ancient woodland close to the location, said “There is currently no evidence that species used in filming have not been contained. Nor do we know what those species are, so we are unable to give any indication of what the impacts might be.’’
Packham says that “The programme is indirectly saying that these animals don’t matter. And that’s ignorance of the highest order.”