The BBC's brand new drama 'Our Zoo' has been beset by the concerns of an animal welfare group that the creatures used in the show were supplied by a company they accuse of unethical behaviour.
Animal Defenders International (ADI) claim that Amazing Animals, who supplied animals including a camel, a bear and a baby penguin to the BBC production, is among a group of suppliers they have secretly filmed mistreating their animals.
The ADI say, "As the BBC knows from its own natural history programmes, much has been learned about the incredibly complex lives of animals. To consign them to a life of performance, for so called 'entertainment' is a travesty. A life of performing is no life for wild animals.
"At Amazing Animals and other suppliers, ADI has gone behind-the-scenes and revealed brutal training techniques, animals exhibiting unnatural and repetitive behaviours, and barren conditions."
'Our Zoo' tells the story of the family of animal lover George Mottershead, and how they set about building their world-famous Chester Zoo, following the traumas of the First World War.
A spokesperson for the show said, “The production of the television series 'Our Zoo' has taken animal welfare extremely seriously. We have taken great care to ensure that during development and every stage of production due consideration has been given to make certain all animals in the series were protected at all times. This included a review of which individual animals should take part and how they should be cared for.
"The production adopted and strictly followed the RSPCA’s Guidelines on the Welfare of Performing Animals (“Guidelines”)… including establishing suitable environments for them, their diet, transportation, an animal’s need to exhibit normal behaviour patterns and the need to protect them from pain, suffering, injury or disease."
'Our Zoo' launched last night with just over five million viewers at 9pm, keeping a large share of the BBC audience - all 8.29million of them who'd opted to watch 'Great British Bake Off' instead of international football over on t'other side.
'Our Zoo' continues on BBC1 on Wednesday evenings, with the first episode available on the BBCiPlayer.
Pictures from 'Our Zoo' below...