09/05/2019 09:15 BST

Jane McDonald Clarifies Elephant Ride Comments Following Backlash To Cruising Series

"The programme could have been a little more clear."

Jane McDonald has spoken out to clarify comments she made about elephant rides on her Channel 5 Cruising series, following a backlash. 

The former Loose Women panellist sparked controversy when some viewers believed she had endorsed riding the animal during the most recent episode of Cruising With Jane McDonald, which saw her visit India. 

The show saw Jane travelling through the streets of Jaipur when she encountered a local riding an elephant. 

Channel 5
Jane McDonald visited India during the most recent episode of her Bafta-winning Cruising series

She was then heard saying: “Nowadays there are government guidelines for how elephants are treated and cared for.

“It’s a steep walk up the hill to get to the fort so I would definitely recommend getting a ride unless you are feeling particularly fit.”

Many believed Jane was recommending riding up on the back of the elephant, and was condemned by charities including Ethical Bucket List and Save The Asian Elephants, who claimed her “damaging” comments ignored “the brutality involved and dangers to tourists largely suppressed by travel companies”. 

However, Jane – who was not seen riding an elephant on the show – has now insisted she was not endorsing the controversial activity. 

She said in a statement: “The programme could have been a little more clear. I was not recommending elephant rides at all, which I find a horrible abuse of animals.”

NurPhoto via Getty Images
The practise of riding elephants is common in India, but is seen as highly controversial

A Channel 5 spokesperson clarified her comments further, explaining her reference to “rides” were about the jeep she was seen travelling in. 

They told The Mirror: “The rides being ­recommended were jeep rides, as taken by Jane herself. We accept this wasn’t as clear as it could be.

“Neither Jane, the programme nor Channel 5 were condoning riding elephants in India.”

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