Petition Slams 'Fear Factor' Revival for Showing Alleged Animal Abuse

In a wave of revivals and reboots, MTV will bring back Fear Factor Tuesday. The show has already met criticism through a petition that slammed the series for its apparent abuse toward animals. 

Hosted by Ludacris, Fear Factor's revival series will feature a lineup of celebrity participants, including Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Tyga. Ahead of its premiere episode, MTV released multiple promotional videos on its Instagram page that featured its famous contestants engaging with animals. One teaser in particular showed contestants participating in a challenge that required them to remove animals, including pigs, from cages. Another preview that received scrutiny showed celebrities sucking on scorpions and carrying crabs with their teeth.

This resulted in a petition appearing on Care2 that called for the show's cancellation.  

"Using animals in entertainment is always a bad idea, but purposefully abusing animals for entertainment is just sick," the petition reads. "Surely there are plenty of ways to shock viewers that don't involve animal cruelty. Animal abuse isn't cool or funny."

To date, the petition has attracted more than 33,000 supporters, with 35,000 signatures required. It urged the network to halt the show's release "until it can produce a season without torturing innocent animals."

"When the world has started to see that animals are someone, not something, intentionally harming any of them for a thrill is a sick step backward," Lisa Lange, senior vice president at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement issued to Newsweek. "PETA is calling on MTV to find new ways to shock viewers, instead of relying on the same old cruel acts that were already out of touch when Fear Factor debuted in 2001."

Fear Factor first debuted in 2001 on NBC and ended in 2006. It was later revived in 2011, but the network canceled it again in 2012. The show had contestants compete against one another in multiple dangerous challenges to secure the highly coveted grand prize of $50,000. 

In its years on television, Fear Factor has encountered animal cruelty criticism before. NBC and Fear Factor came under fire for airing an episode in 2012 titled "Snake Bite." Multiple snakes were allegedly cooled to temperatures that were uninhabitable, and participants were instructed to pick them up by the mouth to place them into containers. A petition, which appeared on Change.org, argued that such treatment violated California law.

"Not only is cooling the snakes endangering their health, biting them and flinging them around is inflicting unnecessary physical harm to the animals," the petition read. "Bringing them down to low temperatures will make them slower and less likely to harm the contestant, but it is extremely unhealthy for the animal and will more than likely result in an Upper Respiratory Infection that has a very low survival rate."

Fear Factor inspired another petition in 2011. It accused the reality show of engaging in cruelty toward animals, writing, "[It's] using the abuse/killing of animals as entertainment."

Representatives for MTV did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment. 

This article was updated to include a comment from PETA.

scorprion A scorpion at a pet store in Sydney. Scorpions were used on "Fear Factor" in a challenge that required contestants to pick them up by the mouth and place them in a container. Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images