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TV plea to stop 'abuse' of animals in jungle

TV presenter Chris Packham has penned an open letter to Ant and Dec - calling for an end the "abuse of animals" on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

The ITV jungle show returns on Sunday with a new line-up of celebritiesfacing spiders, snakes and cockroaches in the bushtucker trials.

Springwatch host Packham (53) described the trials as "barbaric" and "silly" and said that the hit show was undoing the work of natural history programmes.

In the open letter, he said that teaching young viewers that killing for "exploitative 'entertainment' is acceptable".

"Could I please ask you to reconsider the use/abuse of animals in your popular and otherwise entertaining show," he wrote.

The presenter said that the trials "undermined a respect for life, which ... impacts negatively upon conservation ... and ... spoils the show because it's simply out of date, some would say barbaric."

Packham dismissed I'm A Celebrity's use of consultants to advise on animal welfare, saying: "I can guarantee that some animals are harmed during production, because they are fragile or easily stressed."

He criticised the "mockery" of insects being eaten when in some parts of the world "invertebrates are routinely eaten - normally because there is no choice".