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Reality TV Rat Death Sheds Light On Creature Compassion

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realityIt’s hard to know which part of this story is the most difficult to stomach — the fact that a rat was recently consumed for the sake of reality television ratings or the actual manner in which the ill-fated creature met its untimely demise.  After facing an extended period of time without access to meat, two contestants on the reality TV show, “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here” resorted to killing and cooking a rat, but they are now facing the consequences of their actions thanks to the Australian RSPCA’s ruling that they were guilty of committing animal cruelty.

It’s unsettling enough that British actor Stuart Manning and Italian chef Gino D’Acampo ate rat flesh, but the way in which they actually killed their meal is what ended up costing British broadcaster ITV $2,600 US Dollars and additional sizable fines. After being stabbed with a knife, the rat experienced unnecessary pain and distress with a prolonged death, and at least in the Australian state of New South Wales, all creatures great and small are protected under the Cruelty to Animals Act.

David O’Shannessy, the RSPCA’s Chief Inspector, explained: ‘The animal was killed for a TV show and that’s not appropriate. The raw footage indicates that, from the first attempt, it took about 90 seconds before it actually died.’ Claiming that it was an unfortunate oversight, ITV expressed sincere apologies for the incident and stressed that they were unaware of the fact that they were committing a criminal offense. O’Shannessy asserted that if Manning and D’Acampo simply ended the rat’s life in a swift manner, there would be no news coverage whatsoever.

Long considered to be a protein-rich dietary staple in poverty-stricken areas such as Southeast Asia and African regions like Ghana, munching on rattus norvegicus (and various other types of the relatively diminutive whiskered rodents) has enabled those who are far less fortunate to augment their diets and spare themselves from starvation. In the Western world, however, we generally exercise a strict mouths-off policy where rat is concerned, preferring to indulge in far more acceptable forms of animal protein since the general (uninformed) consensus is that rats are the scourge of the earth. The advent of reality television and the quest for squirms and high ratings has apparently changed that.

Aside from being a food source, the whiskered critters happen to be remarkably intelligent and are presently being dispatched to sniff out landmines in Mozambique, Columbia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Medical researchers also continue to pimp them out for never-ending drug studies as well as their keen sense of smell, which can detect the presence of tuberculosis as well as cancer.

It’s good to see the Australian RSPCA looking out for this highly underappreciated rodent and hopefully their ruling will reinforce the fact that no matter the species, all animals deserve basic respect, regard and empathy.

via ABC News

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