Actor and comedian Ricky Gervais is calling for an end to fake animal rescue videos on YouTube, branding them as 'disgusting'.
World Animal Protection has been investigating a worrying new craze on YouTube – videos depicting fake animal rescues.
These videos set a large predator such as a snake or crocodile on a smaller prey animal such as a monkey, dog or reptile for entertainment.
The panicked prey animal is shown desperately trying to escape and crying out until they are ‘rescued’ by the person who put them there in the first place.
This kind of animal cruelty is a relatively new trend and has blown up on YouTube, with over 180 sickening videos found on the streaming platform.
Of these 180, the 50 most viewed had over 133 million views and half a million ‘likes’.
Ben Williamson, Programs Director at World Animal Protection US explained: “Filming will likely require many takes, meaning long periods of suffering.
“No doubt many of these setups even go wrong, meaning that both animals – prey and predator, are having their lives risked.
“Who knows how many fatalities happen behind the scenes? Even those filming it are potentially putting themselves in harm’s way.”
Even more shocking, some of these videos feature critically endangered animals such as the Siamese Crocodile and Elongated Tortise.
Given their high conservation status, the use of these species, even in small numbers, could have damaging impacts on the survival of remaining wild populations.
Moreover, while animals such as Siamese Crocodile and Burmese Pythons are often used as ‘predators’ in these videos, they are being exploited too.
This is because of the capture, transportation and confinement prior to the video, as well as being prodded with sticks and roughly handled during the filming.
Physical signs of abuse before the “attack” include dehydrated snakes with bleeding snouts and damaged rostral scales and underweight birds with missing feathers and clipped wings.
YouTube policy and failure to remove videos
In March 2021, YouTube publically pledged to crack down on animal cruelty content found on its platform. However, 47 new fake animal rescue videos have been posted since this announcement, with over 7 million views.
This is extremely worrying and demonstrates that YouTube is obviously either not in control of the situation or not taking it seriously enough.
Therefore, World Animal Protection is calling on YouTube to live up to its promise and immediately remove the abusive content that clearly violates its stated community standards.
Animal advocate, comedian, actor, and director, Ricky Gervais, has also spoken out on the animal cruelty videos, calling for YouTube to urgently take action.
He said: “Just when you think you’ve heard it all, humans think of another way to be cruel to animals.
“Social media giants like YouTube should be on the front foot when it comes to banning this disgusting content from their platforms.
“We can and should protect animals, but we can’t do this without serious action from the companies that enable their abuse.”
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