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Essex Jungle

22 April 2011 - The TV series, Essex Jungle, started this week, showing wildlife in its unnatural habitat. And as much as it may have intended to show the "quirkiness" of exotic pet-keeping, the show was very revealing of what some would simply call "animal abuse".

As well as the poor treatment of animals, we saw keepers stroking a lizard's head - presumably thinking it liked it. In fact the animal displayed a threat response because it definitely didn't like it! We saw an overweight monitor lizard, deprived of its natural long-range wandering behaviour but apparently "living a life of luxury" in someone's bathroom!

A rescue centre manager recounted the many tales of woe surrounding unwanted, abandoned and mistreated reptiles. Lizards were proudly displayed by their captors yet they had clearly sustained what are termed "rostral abrasion lesions" (or facial injuries) from repeatedly attempting to escape their unnatural conditions.

An array of exotics carrying infectious bugs were mixed with vulnerable children with no mention that at least two children have recently died from reptile-linked disease. And a woman recounted her repeated lizard deaths which "put her off" reptile-keeping for a short time, and even now she seems oblivious to the captivity-stress-related behaviours displayed by the lizards right under her own nose.

The three remaining episodes will be shown on Wednesdays 8pm on Channel 5 (the first episode is still available to view at http://www.channel5.com/search?q=essex+jungle).

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