The contestants of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! could be at risk of experiencing a brush with the wild that they might not expect – with reports of Big Cats stalking the Welsh countryside.
For the first time ever the ITV show is being filmed in the UK as travel to Australia this year was vetoed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – with health risks too high and travel restrictions making a trip Down Under impossible.
And while the show has relocated to Gwrych Castle in Wales, it seems Big Cats could be an unexpected risk to the contestants.
Local reports in the nearby Snowdonia region have suggested a string of sheep deaths could have been caused by wild Big Cats in the area.
One farmer is said to have lost 10 sheep over four months within a 30 mile distance from the site of the I’m A Celeb cameras – with experts suspecting there could be as many as 12 Big Cats, capable of prowling a 30 mile territory, in the area.
Tony Jones, founder of Puma Watch North Wales who aim to raise awareness of Big Cat sightings, told The Sun: “Even Olympic gold athlete Sir Mo Farah would not be able to outrun a puma.
“At full speed over a short distance, the puma would be far quicker.
Mr Jones suspects the markings of the animals described by a string of witnesses in the area point to the big cat being a puma.
“I think there is a small population of a dozen or so pumas living in the Snowdonia area. I’d say the first ones were released here by owners in the late 70s.”
He explained that local farmers are concerned about their livestock being threatened by the animals.
He said: “This poor farmer is going out of his mind with worry. It’s been extremely distressing and stressful for him.”
Mr Jones went on to explain that sheep had been found killed by a single bite mark to the back of the neck.
The wildlife expert claims the killing technique is too unlike a dog or badger to be considered.
Meanwhile, I’m A Celeb has come under fire in the past week over the use of non-indigenous insects being used in trials.
Spring watch presenter Lolo Williams wants as far as to report the show to the police to complain about the release of non-native wildlife into the Welsh countryside.
Mr Williams argued that contestants were having “thousands” of cockroaches poured on them during trials – and that producers would have no hope of retrieving them all.
He argued: “I’m not sure which species they’re releasing, but I can tell you they’re not native. We don’t have those cockroaches here in the UK and we certainly don’t have them in north Wales.
“There are going to be cockroaches in every nook and cranny along their bodies, you’re going to tell me that every single one of those is found immediately? Of course it’s not.”
ITV argued: “All of our insects are kept within the filming area. We have a grate system that the bugs fall through to allow collection after filming.
“Contestants on the show also shake themselves down over a grate after filming to collect all insects.”
They added: “All of the insects used on I’m A Celebrity are non-invasive species. They are only ever released in a contained area and collected immediately after filming.”