The Chase stars Anne Hegerty, Shaun Wallace and Mark Labbett have been labelled "irresponsible" by the Humane Society International after swimming with captive dolphins in their new show.
The ITV regulars were seen visiting the Dolphin Research Centre in Florida, US as part of their new show The Chasers Road Trip: Trains, Brains and Automobiles.
In last week's episode, the trio visited the centre and were seen swimming with captive dolphins, which has angered fans and activists alike.
The channel uploaded a clip from the show onto their official Facebook page, but it was met with more than 60 angry faces and comments.
One person wrote: "I like The Chase however I'm sad to see that after all the attention John Bishop's Great Whale Rescue got that ITV have then backtracked to allowing three of the Chasers to swim with captive Dolphins. Dolphins and Whales are cruelly taken from their wild habitats and then sold into slavery, they then have to spend the rest of their lives in small, barren concrete tanks doing tricks to get fed frozen fish.
"Do better ITV."
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Another said: "I am so sad to see that you featured a scene of the Chasers swimming with captive dolphins on ITV this evening. Please do not promote this activity. Dolphins do not thrive in captivity and such promotion feeds the captive industry where wild dolphins are still cruelly snatched from their pods and starved until they perform."
Meanwhile, a number of organisations have come out to condemn the segment.
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An RSPCA spokesman said: “We were disappointed to see animals being used in this way on The Chasers Road Trip.
"Swimming with dolphins may seem appealing to holiday makers but we know that in reality they often have restricted space and can find swimming with people all day very stressful.
"Keeping dolphins and whales captive deprives them of some of the most basic freedoms and causes them unacceptable levels of stress and suffering.
"Captivity cannot provide for their needs and they can live shortened lives.”
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Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, agreed saying: “It is extremely disappointing to see inhumane treatment of these highly intelligent animals promoted or normalised on TV.
"We urge ITV to rethink their policy that all too often sees them screening irresponsible interactions with animals."
And Audrey Gaffney of The Ethical Bucket List said "the show has a very naïve interpretation of a research sanctuary".
She added: "These animals are being kept in captivity and are clearly used for entertainment purposes.
"We ask people to consider the nature of animal tourism and this relates to the level of contact and the nature of the animals behaviour. These animals were being directed by their keeper to perform."
Meanwhile, ITV said in a statement: "There is no endorsement of mistreatment of animals in this programme. As the show makes clear to viewers, it sets out to challenge and enlighten our understanding of animal intelligence and does so in a way that prompts the Chasers to reflect on the ways animals are treated by humans within our cultures and ask whether this should change.
"Research for our programme established the Dolphin Research Centre where filming took place is a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, the international accrediting body for marine parks, aquariums, zoos and research facilities. Alliance-accredited institutions are the gold standard in marine mammal care at which animal experts dedicate their lives to the well-being of the animals in their care and to the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals in need of help.
"Louie, one of the dolphins who appeared in the programme, was rescued at a young age after being impacted by an oil spill while in the wild and has since had to remain at the facility, having been too young to develop hunting and social skills to survive in the wild."
- The Chase
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