'Grotesque': 'Apprentice' Star Rinsed For Suggesting Dead Koala Fur Scarfs As Bushfire Fundraiser
Hundreds of millions of dollars has been raised in astonishing donation drives for the Australian bushfire crisis, but one bizarre suggestion has been thoroughly trashed after being raised on a British TV show.
Ryan-Mark Parsons, 19, came to fame in Britain on last year's version of 'The Apprentice'. He bills himself as a "luxury expert and media personality", and he thinks the fur from koalas killed and burned to death in the Australian bushfires should be harvested and turned into luxury goods, to raise money for fire relief.
Ryan-Mark appeared on Good Morning Britain on Thursday to share his idea, claiming the fur of the dead koalas should be used for products -- his main idea was for "scarfs" -- which people could wear to "memorialise the animals who have died".
"What has happened in Australia is utterly devastating and as a result, the koalas have died. But the animals are dead and if we can use the fur to raise money to save the other animals, I don't see why that's an issue," he said on the show.
Parsons has formerly described himself as "a 60-year-old trapped in a teenager’s body" and said Queen Elizabeth was his role model.
One of the hosts suggested it was a "sick" idea, while animal rights campaigner Wendy Turner Webster called it "grotesque".
"I don't think it's a sick idea," Ryan-Mark protested.
"I'm not saying we need to slaughter koalas, in fact I love koalas, if there was a koala here I'd hug a koala."
While the panel debated the merits and logistics of such a fundraiser, and whether it would restart a trade in koala fur, what was not touched upon was the fact that -- sadly -- many of these animals have literally burnt to death, making their fur not exactly a luxury commodity.
Ryan-Mark stuck to his guns, claiming it was a "one-off initiative" and an "out of the box... creative solution". He suggested products like scarves could be produced, which Brits could wear as a memorial.
Turner-Webster likened the idea to "the drug dealer taking his profits and giving them to a rehab center."
Ryan-Mark admitted he had not spoken to anyone in Australia about the idea, but claimed his friends would get behind such a product line.
Good Morning Britain, you may remember, is the same show which recently became an unlikely ally in the climate change discussion when host Piers Morgan grilled Liberal MP and climate skeptic, Craig Kelly.
Morgan told Kelly to "wake up" and said for Australian politicians to deny links between climate and bushfires "is absolutely disgraceful".
Australians and others around the world were not incredibly stoked on Ryan-Mark's bizarre idea.
In the wake of the interview -- and some backlash -- Ryan-Mark for his part tweeted out several more helpful links where people would directly assist Australians and animals affected by the fires.
Anyway, if you actually do want to make a donation or help, here's a list of organisations that could do with some assistance: