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Rat Cooking Lands Celeb Reality TV Show in Hot Water

SYDNEY -- Two stars of the "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here" television show have been charged with animal cruelty after allegedly killing and cooking a rat to eat during filming.

Chef Gino D'Acampo, who won the viewer-feedback contest series, and actor Stuart Manning were charged after animal welfare activists lodged a complaint about a segment for the British TV program, which was filmed in Australia, the activists and British media reported Sunday.

In a statement to The Associated Press, New South Wales state police said Sunday that two men, aged 33 and 30, were charged with animal cruelty for acts in connection to the program but did not give names or other details. They have been asked to appear in court to face the charge on Feb. 3. The maximum penalty is three years in prison.

The performers and ITV, the network that produces the show, did not immediately respond to media inquiries about the incident.

"The killing of a rat for a performance is not acceptable. The concern is this was done purely for the cameras," David O'Shannessy from the New South Wales RSPCA told the British Broadcasting Corp.

He said producers were normally required to have animal welfare officers on set when animals were used during filming, but in this case it did not take place.

"I'm a Celebrity" strands C-list celebrities in the Australian Outback, subjects them to a series of icky trials involving spiders and snakes, and allows the public to vote them off the show one by one.

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