KILLJOY activists have have slammed a remake of a popular children’s TV show because they say it humanises animals.
The Born Free Foundation said the remake of 1960s and 70s classic Animal Magic was misleading for kids.
The original show featured animals apparently speaking with human voices and was loved by millions.
The remake of the show which was originally presented by Johnny Morris is called The Zoo and also features talking animals.
But in a move that some see as politically correct, the Born Free Foundation, a wildlife charity, has condemned The Zoo for “attributing human voices to animals and misinterpreting their actions to meet fabricated narrative” that was “seriously misleading and mis-educational”.
The BBC has been forced to defend the series filmed at Paignton Zoo in Devon, UK, insisting it was in no way mocking animals held in captivity for laughs.
The programme, filmed by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, was promoted as the “Animal Magic of the 21st century”.
Giving human characteristics to tigers, lions, monkeys and penguins was also meant to appeal to those adults who recalled Morris’s antics as a zookeeper at Bristol Zoo in the classic show of the1960s and 70s.
Morris boasted in his autobiography how Animal Magic had never received a single viewer complaint
But The Zoo, narrated by Hugh Dennis, a comedian has hit controversy before its first episode is even aired.
In a letter to the BBC, Will Travers, president of the Born Free Foundation, said: “Depicting animals this way to a highly impressionable eight to 12-year-old audience will, in my view, do nothing to advance our understanding of animals and I ask you to show some respect for a society that has moved on since Animal Magic, and withdraw this kind of programming from the schedule.”
In reply, Alice Webb, director of BBC Children, wrote: “The comedy is created by animals portraying human foibles and the social scenarios of living together in a small community and miscommunications that arise.
“A similar example might be the popular BBC comedy Porridge – it isn’t funny because people are in prison – rather from the misunderstandings and mishaps of human interaction in a small community. The Zoo is based on the same principle.”
Greg Childs, of the Children’s Media Foundation, said: “Zoos exist. Some are also serious scientific institutions.
“We would, however, encourage the BBC to take a broad view on this and ensure any controversy surrounding The Zoo is discussed.”
A BBC spokesman added: “There is widespread and mainstream scientific evidence about the positive educational and conservational value of good quality zoos, and we’d suggest people watch the programme before passing judgment.”