A reality TV pig slaughter causes outrage (again)

The second UK season of Bear Grylls' latest survival reality series, “The Island,” is generating outrage after contestants have slaughtered three pigs for food and killed an endangered crocodile, having confused it with a more common caiman.

An American version of the show will air on NBC this summer, debuting May 25.

Reports say that PETA actually wants Grylls and the show's producers to be arrested for these actions. “Killing animals is a cheap ratings ploy and sends an especially harmful message to young viewers, who are greatly influenced by what they see on TV. Bear Grylls and the producers should be prosecuted. Fame doesn't mean immunity,” the organization said in a statement.

Most interesting, however, is that the animals were placed on the island by producers to be killed. (The show is filmed in the Pearl Islands off the coast of Panama.)

On Channel 4's web site for the episode, a statement says that “indigenous animals and vegetation for survival as long as the men and women had the ingenuity to catch, kill or utilise the natural resources to last the course of the experience.” That “included introducing pigs, iguana, caiman, coconuts and yucca to the islands, all are indigenous to the area.”

In other words, they were planted there to be killed.

As to the crocodile, in a statement to The Sun newspaper, Channel 4 called it “a genuine and regrettable error” and said that “Prior to filming experts were consulted to ascertain species on both islands and the American crocodile was not known to be in the area or on the island.”

All of this controversy recalls something that happened 14 years ago, in 2001, when during the fourth episode of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” contestant Mike Skupin caught and killed a pig for his tribe. (He later left the game after falling into the fire and severely burning his hands.) That created similar outrage, and unsubstantiated reports claimed the pig was drugged and released in order to be slaughtered, and authorities investigated.

To bring this even full circle, vegetarian contestant Kimmi Kappenberg, who objected to Mike's pig slaughter, is one of the 32 contestants vying to return for Survivor Second Chances.

As to the death of “The Island”'s pigs, Channel 4 said in a statement, that the cast members “were trained in the humane capture and dispatch of animals. They decided they needed to eat or risk being unable to continue.”