A British broadcaster has been convicted of animal cruelty after two reality show contestants skinned, cooked and ate a rat during filming in Australia.
ITV Studios, producer of "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," was fined 3,000 Australian dollars ($2,615) after pleading guilty Monday, the Australian RSPCA said Tuesday.
The RSPCA filed a complaint in December against show participants chef Gino D'Acampo and actor Stuart Manning who prepared the risotto-and-rat meal on the wilderness show late last year.
Animal activists said the rat squealed in apparent pain and took more than 90 seconds to die.
After ITV's guilty plea, the RSPCA decided to drop its complaints against D'Acampo and Manning, according to a statement from David O'Shannessy, chief inspector for the New South Wales state RSPCA. If convicted, the men could have faced up to three years in prison.
The conviction confirms that killing and preparing an animal for human consumption should not involve unnecessary pain, distress or suffering of the animal, O'Shannessy said.
ITV previously said producers had sought health and safety advice about eating the rat but failed to check whether killing it was legal.
"I'm a Celebrity" strands C-list celebrities in the Australian wilderness, subjects them to trials involving spiders and snakes, and allows the public to vote them off the show one by one.
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