By Mitch Gilley, Associate Writer.
In a clip from Man vs Wild (formerly on The Discovery Channel) Bear Grylls used smoke to flush bats from a cave and then struck the fleeing, terrified animals with a makeshift club and stomped on them with what seemed to be glee, jokingly referring to it as “bat tennis.”
Yes, this actually happened, and it is not an isolated incident. Aside from bats, Bear has killed alligators, monitor lizards, capybaras and even boas. None of these animals are killed in anywhere near a humane manner; they are simply beaten to death for the amusement of the viewing public.
This can’t be overstated enough: for those who care about animals, the videos available online showing his frequent atrocities are very, very difficult to watch. If you seek them out to see for yourself, please be aware of this.
In replying to email complaints about the show, The Discovery Channel defended itself by saying that Bear was imparting valuable survival information and, unbelievably, that it was his Bear’s “style!” Such “stylistic” concerns as applied to people comprises much of the notoriety of serial killers. As for the conveyance of vital survival tips, opting to beat, kill and eat whatever animals are near is very clearly a rash and inadvisable course of action. Real survival experts – the ones who actually survive in the wilderness rather than preen their sad macho survivalist fantasies on television – say that pretty much everything Bear Grylls does or says to do will get you killed. There is no worthwhile information whatsoever that can only be conveyed by filming oneself killing innocent, healthy animals, and terrorizing and bludgeoning sleeping bats right at their doorstep.
Let us not forget that Bear Grylls was exposed for staying in hotels overnight while filming a show that falsely portrayed him as embattled by harsh wilderness.
Profiting from the utterly pointless killing of these bats – and all animals – is unilaterally unacceptable, and while the show may now be cancelled, Discovery still has the video and others like it up for viewing on their website, meaning that they as well as Bear are still profiting from engineering, perpetrating and showing the deaths of these healthy, innocent animals to audiences worldwide.
(Please note that we were unable to find an email address for anyone at Discovery, however, you may also leave an opinion here. To contact the Ethics Hotline in the U.S. and Canada, please dial (800) 398-6395.)
WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO SEND HARD-COPY LETTERS TO DISCOVERY. A SAMPLE LETTER IS INCLUDED BELOW.
Please either fax or mail a letter to John S. Hendricks, Chairman, Discovery Communications, LLC at the following address:
John S. Hendricks, Chairman
One Discovery Place
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Specifically, Mr. Grylls uses smoke and flame to drive the bats from their home and their sleep, strikes them from the air with a homemade bludgeon, stomps on their broken, fragile, defenseless bodies and then devours them alive, all for the benefit of an audience that will never in a million years find themselves forced to rely on what they’ve seen on television to survive in the Chinese wilderness.
That such brutality is so flimsily justified by anthropological and naturalist pretenses is offensive enough, but it cannot possibly overshadow the brutality itself. After hearing the video, it seemed unbelievable – even possibly illegal – that such things could or would be shown, and particularly on a reputable channel as Discovery. If teenagers spent the weekend filming themselves doing the exact same thing, they would of course be arrested and charged with animal cruelty.
It was profoundly disappointing then to see that it was not only aired, but choreographed and filmed at great effort and expense. Worse, it was done solely to entertain and to glorify Mr. Grylls as a strong and courageous survivalist. As this is a fabrication, as it is now common knowledge that many or most of Mr. Grylls’ stunts were staged, as everyone now knows that he was spending his nights in hotel rooms rather than the wilderness he professed to survive in for days on end, not only is all his demagoguery rendered suspect, but it cannot be credibly said that those bats died for educational purposes, nor indeed for any other purpose than the facile excitement of an audience.
Profiting from the brutal and inhumane killing of these animals in pursuit of what is essentially a modern day blood sport is wrong, and we ask that the “bat tennis” video be removed from your website along with all others in which Bear Grylls beats animals to death. As a media operation that purports to be educational, fostering such cruelty and disrespect toward the creatures we share the earth with is unconscionable. What was done to them cannot be undone, but you can from this point on respect their suffering and not peddle it as despicable and retrograde entertainment.
Again, I implore The Discovery Channel to remove all videos of Bear Grylls mutilating, killing and eating innocent animals from your website as well as other websites including YouTube and other video channels.