UPDATE: North Wales Police just issued an updated statement: “North Wales Police and Natural Resources Wales have received information regarding the potential release of non-native species into ‘non studio’ areas, and we have given suitable advice to the production team regarding their set management and biosecurity.”
PREVIOUS: ITV’s hit entertainment show I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! may have moved thousands of miles from Australia to Wales in 2020, but familiar concerns about animal welfare continue to hound the series.
The ITV Studios production is being filmed at the derelict Gwrych Castle in rural Wales, but the Ant and Dec-hosted show is continuing to use bugs, including cockroaches, maggots, spiders, during bushtucker trials for the celebrity contestants.
According to The Guardian, Welsh police are now investigating I’m A Celebrity… over concerns that non-native wildlife could have escaped the castle and be posing a threat to local species. “The matter is being investigated by officers from our rural crime team,” a north Wales police spokesperson said.
It follows a complaint from TV presenter and wildlife expert Iolo Williams, who told the Guardian that it was “madness” for producers to use non-native species during filming.
It appears that #imacelebrity made no licence application to @NatResWales to release non-native species into the wild. This now becomes an issue for @HeddluGogCymru to ascertain whether offences have been committed. Over to you @NWPRuralCrime
— Iolo Williams (@IoloWilliams2) November 24, 2020
An ITV spokesman told Deadline that the critters used in I’m A Celebrity… are non-invasive species bred in the UK by commercial operators who supply feed for exotic animals. The bugs are understood to be kept in a contained studio-like environment, which includes celebrities shaking themselves down over a grate to collect excess wildlife.
“All of the insects used on I’m A Celebrity are non-invasive species. They are only ever released in a contained area and collected immediately after filming,” the spokesman said.
“The bugs are UK bred and are commercially purchased in the UK for birds and exotic animal feed for pet and zoo keepers in normal circumstances. Our insects have been donated to local wildlife sanctuaries, trusts and zoos for their exotic animal and bird feed after filming.”
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