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Animal Rights and Reality Television

Updated on April 16, 2018

Almost everyone who watches television has watched one form of a reality show or another. These shows have become an epidemic in the realm of television programming if not crammed down our collective throats. Some shows can be very educational while others are blatant forms of mindless, useless, sensational drama. Think the Real Housewives of who cares where. But one form of reality television dedicated to creating specific scenarios where cast members and/or hosts are placed in survival situations and innocent wild animals are killed for food has in my opinion gone too far.

Examples of these types of shows are The Discovery Channel’s "Man vs. Wild," "Survivorman," and "The Colony," and the CBS smash hit "Survivor." I believe that setting up survival situations in order to provide valuable information on survival techniques is a very useful and interesting tool and television as the tool is a powerful way to offer this information. However when these situations are set up and wild animals are killed and eaten only to show how one can eat such an animal in the event such a situation should occur is not only wrong but an injustice to the animals that otherwise would still be alive were it not for the television show. To me, this animal slaughter is nothing less than televised animal cruelty all in the name of making a buck.

While I am a very strict vegetarian and have been for almost 20 years, in the event that I were in a dire fight to survive, I would be forced to kill and eat an animal. Most of us would but this would be a real life or death situation and I would not take the act lightly, doing so with a heavy heart. But there is no need to actually kill these animals in the name of good television. These television shows can simply provide the information on how to do it without actually doing it. How can these shows allow the killing of these animals in situations that are artificially created? How can the lives of these animals be taken in the name of survival when no real survival situation is occurring? I am extremely offended by these television shows and have been forced to boycott them. This to me is a shame because as an avid outdoorsman, I am very interested in learning about new survival techniques as well as enjoy just being able to watch television shows featuring outdoor activities.

Why these shows are compelled to throw in the gruesome slaughter and consumption of innocent and defenseless wild animals is beyond my common sense. I can not understand how actually killing these animals in any way makes the show more informational or interesting. The only people who want to see such things are in my opinion sick and sadistic. But isn’t that the reality of reality television? They capitalized on drama and shock. The more shocking and disgusting, the better according to television executives. But even worse are the stars of these shows like Bear Grylls, Les Stroud, and Jeff Probst. They are the willing participants, the axe men, the head hunters, the grim reapers, and the executioners. They do it in the name of greed. They can care less about the animals they kill because it’s their show which leads to their fame which leads to more money in their pockets. Decency and doing what is right does not factor in to a television show making money. They must have the gruesome to get their ratings.

If you are an animal lover, if you even care one little bit about the rights of animals, you too will boycott these survival reality television shows. Animals depend on man to survive. They need people to protect them whether it’s their habitats or their own lives. Their lives are short and hard enough without having to run for their lives from a money grubbing television crew with an agenda. But I guess for me, these "survival" shows aren’t as much about a lone man surviving in the wilds of Alaska as they are about the wild animals trying to survive the wrath of man.


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  • Lucky Cats profile image


    8 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

    Veganite; I'm with you. We share the same disgust, disappointment and disbelief in the behaviors of our fellow human beings. You've written an excellent hub in an honest fashion which deserves recognition. And you're educating as you publish. your last sentence is incredibly right on target! Thank you, Veganite. UP and Awesome and Useful and Beautiful because your heart is.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I was just thinking about this! In between watching some DVR stuff that ridiculous "Swamp Brothers" show was on so I watched it for a few minutes. Everything about it seemed staged, like the animals are placed there to create a situation for filming, which is highly screwed up. They aren't killing the animals though, thank god. This immediately reminded me of the incredibly disturbing scene from the last season of "The Colony" with the young crocodile. It was painfully obvious that producers planned for a small, "manageable-size" croc to show up there for the colonists to man-handle. There was an element of torture in that scene and it made me sick. Up until then I was totally enjoying the show. If these shows were actually REAL reality TV, instead of staged BS, I could maybe see past it, but I'd bet money that in most cases the animals are brought to the stars of the show, as opposed the shows' stars suddenly discovering an animal, know what I mean? It's very shady, and they're basically treating wild animals as if they're "talent animals", like they're playing a part in a show, except some of them don't make it out alive.

    Ironically, I'm not even a vegetarian! I know, I know, I'm a total hypocrite and if I'm so passionate about this I obviously SHOULD be a vegetarian :(

    I do have respect for "Man vs Wild". I feel this is the most authentic of the people-killing-or-trapping-animals shows. It's definitely the least sensational. It's just him and a videocamera, sort of "teaching" survival skills. Unfortunately if someone is ever in that situation, they would likely have to kill animals in order to survive, so I can see the benefit in this show. As for all the other shows, it's just pure sensationalism to gain ratings. It's shameful that so much of the Discovery Channel and the History Channel have gone the way of reality television. It's truly pathetic.


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