MasterChef Ecuador has come under fire for allegedly serving meat from the world’s most beloved (and protected) large rodent, the capybara. An episode that aired on January 3 saw contestants given a variety of exotic meats to choose from, including shark, crocodile, and deer, before being asked to make a dish out of them. However, animal rights groups have since called out the show by claiming that some of the meat may have come from capybara, a protected species.
Allegations arose after the National Animal Movement of Ecuador released a statement condemning the show for consuming capybara, which is prohibited except for hunters that use hunting as a food source. The show has since been contacted by the environmental ministries of both Ecuador and Columbia, who released statements condemning any consumption of the wild animal.
“We ask the producers of the program and the channel that broadcasts the program for an explanation of where the meat of these animals came from,” said the animal rights group in a statement.
“These types of ‘dishes’ in these types of ‘shows’ seek to normalize the consumption of protected animals, whose possession masks the trafficking of wild animals and the destruction of ecosystems.”
Show chef and judge Carolina Sanchez has responded by simply stating the meat was “from a farm”, reports France24. Despite this, the footage containing the meat in question has since been removed from the official MasterChef Ecuador YouTube channel, and replaced by a version without the alleged capybara meat.