Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais has spoken out against social media giants like YouTube for ‘enabling animal abuse’.
The statement follows an investigation by World Animal Protection that discovered an upsurge in YouTube videos of fake animal rescues.
Creators of the videos intentionally place prey and predator animals alongside each other. They film the animals attacking – for instance, a crocodile attacking a dog or monkey. They then film themselves intervening to ‘rescue’ the animal.
World Animal Protection said: “In these clips you can hear the terrified cries of the animals as they fear for their lives … they face visible distress and trauma, and shouldn’t have been in such a terrifying situation in the first place.
“This cruelty is set-up and inflicted for entertainment.”
The organization found more than 180 videos showing fake animal rescues. Seventy of them were published this year. The animal rights group said this reflects a ‘worrying upsurge’. The videos have garnered, at times, more than 100 million views.
Ricky Gervais and animal welfare
Longtime vegetarian Gervais commented on the ‘disgusting’ content’. 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.”
Gervais added: “We can and should protect animals, but we can’t do this without serious action from the companies that enable their abuse.”
It’s not the first time Gervais has spoken out about animal rights. The entertainer has called out animal testing, fur in fashion, horse racing, and the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.
Cruelty against wild animals
Nearly 50 new fake animal rescue videos have been uploaded since the end of March. This was after YouTube publicly committed to addressing the issue.
The creators of these videos, who are profiting financially from the uploads, have used endangered and critically endangered species in the clips. These have included the Siamese crocodile, the Elongated tortoise, and the Lar gibbon.
Ben Williams is the Programs Director for World Animal Protection US. He noted that the increasing popularity of the clips could lead to video creators using more species and encouraging more severe attacks.
He said: “Whether it’s the prey or predators, these sentient beings are not props, playthings or entertainers for shocking YouTube videos – they are wild animals.”