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U.K. 'I'm a Celebrity' celebs charged with animal cruelty for eating a rat


By Christopher Rocchio, 12/07/2009 

Two U.K. I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! contestants will apparently have to answer for their decision to kill and eat a rat during an episode of the reality competition series.

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British I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! ninth-season winner Gino D'Acampo and fellow contestant Stuart Manning have been charged by Australian police with animal cruelty for the incident, BBC News reported Monday.

D'Acampo, a celebrity chef, and Manning, an actor, have been ordered to appear in court on February 3 to answer to the charges.

"The killing of a rat for a performance is not acceptable. The concern is this was done purely for the cameras," Australia's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals chief inspector David Oshannessy told the BBC.

Oshannessy added there was a "code of practice" that dictated how animals could be used in theatrical productions and films and said the RSPCA sends staff whenever animals are used -- so he had been in contact with I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!'s producers before the rat was killed.

"But we received no pre-notice or advice this segment was going to occur, it happened on a day no animals were featuring in production, so we didn't have an officer there," Oshannessy told the BBC, adding what occurred on the show was "not acceptable."

ITV -- which broadcasts I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in the U.K. -- has since apologized for the incident and said it will "tighten" up its procedures in the future.

"ITV apologizes for this error, and to the celebrities concerned, and will put in place procedures for next year's series to ensure that this cannot happen again," an ITV spokesman told BBC News.

The incident occurred when I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!'s cast was divided into two groups -- one of which contained D'Acampo and Manning and was given meager rations.

As the group grew concerned about their lack of energy to compete in physical challenges, they decided to kill and eat a rat.

"It's not done by choice but it's done because we need it. We need some kind of protein, we need some kind of flavor," said D'Acampo in a confessional during the episode, according to BBC News.

"I saw one of these rats running around. I got a knife, I got its throat, I picked it up."

While BBC News reported no charges were filed against ITV, the network's spokesman said production did clear the killing of the rat.

"The production was asked if a rat could be caught and eaten by the celebrities in exile camp to supplement the basic rations they had been provided with for their evening meal," the spokesman told BBC News.

"Having sought health and safety advice, the go-ahead was given purely on this basis... the production was unaware that killing a rat could be an offence."

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!'s ninth-season finale aired last week.

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