An educational program on national television channel (VTV) has found itself in hot water after carrying scenes of four children throwing a cat into a swimming pool.
The show, Con yeu cua me (My love child) series that focuses on a family of three, telling stories of parents educating their son Bo, who attends a primary school.
In the episode in question, broadcast on VTV3 at 7:55 p.m. on Sunday (April 17), Bo and his three friends are sitting beside a swimming pool when one asks why ducks can stay afloat and swim while some other animals cannot. Then the children take a kitten, tie it to two empty water bottles and put it in the pool to see if it floats. As soon as they place the makeshift raft in water, it overturns and the kitten is caught under.
The kitten struggles for about 18 seconds with the children crying out in apparent consternation. Then, one of them jumps into the water to take it out. Bo's parents then come running, apparently worried that one of the children is drowning.
The father asks, "But why is the cat swimming?" when it is clearly drowning. The parents smile at their children's naivety. There is no news about what happened to the cat or about the cruel act perpetrated by the children.
A clip of the show was posted on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecR9E8zP-e4) and quickly attracted widespread criticism. The clip indicates that the scenes were not spontaneous but acted out, drawing accusations of deliberate cruelty toward a helpless animal.
Thao Nguyen, an administrator of the www.yeudongvat.org (loving animals) forum, said that she was very upset.
"Thousands of members of our forum and others were really angered by the footage. We cannot understand why such an inhuman scene was played on VTV3," she asked.
There were others who did not agree with the strong criticism that the episode attracted.
"I am not so upset like others. The program producers should add some dialogue about animal protection. That's all," said another facebook entry by "coccafedang."
VTV said in a statement Wednesday that the scriptwriter and producers had aimed to educate by showing incorrect behavior of children and advice from adults.
It blamed producers and those who approved the scene for their shortcomings that have led to "frustration" among parents when the program was broadcast. "This is a regretful incident and we have seriously reviewed responsibilities of all involved," the statement said