Highlands & Islands

The boy who told Bear Grylls: 'You suck'

Finlay Pringle with Chris Packham Image copyright Pringle family
Image caption Finlay Pringle with Chris Packham on the stage at a wildlife conservation event

A schoolboy has told how challenging TV presenter Bear Grylls about his new diving with sharks aquarium experience turned his life upside down.

Finlay Pringle, 11, from Ullapool, believes sharks should not be kept in captivity and told Grylls on social media: "You suck."

After the post he lost a shark conservation role, but won praise from another TV presenter, Chris Packham.

A spokesperson for Grylls said the attraction helped fund conservation.

The schoolboy had signed a petition opposing the dive experience at the Bear Grylls Adventure in Birmingham.

He also wrote "You suck" and called Grylls the "worst chief scout", in reference to the presenter's role with the Scouts.

Image copyright Pringle family
Image caption Finlay with gifts from the band the Levellers who have also praised his actions

Finlay told BBC Radio Scotland's Mornings with Kaye Adams programme: "I don't think it is right to put sharks in tanks and make money from it.

"As chief scout I thought it set a very bad example to children on how we should treat animals."

Finlay was a young ambassador for Sharks4Kids when he criticised Grylls on social media.

'Fighting a good fight'

Around the time the post appeared, the charity withdrew the role.

Sharks4Kids said Finlay's involvement was not ended because he spoke out against Grylls, but because he made statements on behalf of the organisation which were not legal for its status.

Finlay told the Kaye Adams programme that he was upset to lose the role. He has since become involved with another charity.

Packham, who met the schoolboy at a People's Walk for Wildlife event, said he supported the youngster's stance against keeping animals in captivity.

The TV presenter said: "We live in a world where less and less young people are engaged with wildlife and developing a deep-rooted desire to protect it.

"Then up steps Finlay."

Describing the boy as "brave", Packham added: "Finlay has become a hero of mine for fighting a good fight for the environment."

'Heightened awareness'

A spokesperson for the Bear Grylls Adventure said: "We fully respect Finlay's approach to conservation as it's something we feel strongly about too.

"Our Dive experience presents a unique opportunity for guests to become truly immersed in an ocean environment, all the time engaging, educating and inspiring them.

"Taking our guests from 'observation to experience' will create a heightened awareness of the animals and their environment, which will help in the long run to raise awareness of, and support for, creature conservation."

The spokesperson added: "We've partnered with Shark Trust to help to build the conservation story at the attraction and will be donating a proportion of each ticket sold to strengthen the charity's undisputable contribution to safeguarding the wild population of sharks."

In a statement, Sharks4Kids said it was a "tiny" US-registered charity that existed only to promote education about the importance of sharks and their conservation to children.

It said its status prevented it from lobbying, petitioning or participating in any form of activism.

In the statement, the charity said it supported Finlay's "passion to speak up for what he believes" and wished him all the best in being a voice for animals.