BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham has written an open letter to Ant and Dec slamming the alleged abuse of wildlife in their ITV reality series I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.
Published in the Radio Times, the open letter laments the show's extensive use of wildlife in the Bushtucker Trials undertaken by the celebrities living in the jungle as part of the show.
"Could I please ask you to reconsider the use/abuse of animals in your popular and otherwise entertaining show," writes Packham. "My request is motivated on several grounds; welfare, stereotyping and undermining a respect for life, which then impacts negatively upon conservation."
Claiming animals such as snakes, spiders and rats are often "misunderstood", Packham says the show's depiction of animals as things to be feared "undoes all the education that I and my colleagues strive to achieve in our natural history programmes."
Packham currently presents BBC nature programmes Springwatch and Autumnwatch.
"I'm afraid I can guarantee that some animals are harmed during production, because they are fragile or easily stressed. Or simply killed, as they are in your 'Bushtucker Trials'.
"Your younger viewers... are being taught that killing things for plain exploitative 'entertainment' is acceptable," he says.
The Radio Times reached out to ITV for comment. They said: "Ant and Dec are the presenters of the show, and as such are not involved with the formatting of the trials, which are devised by the show's producers. ITV takes animal welfare very seriously and expert handlers are on hand at all times."
I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here returns to ITV1 this Sunday.