Leading animal advocacy organisations hope tomorrow could spell the end for rodeo in New Zealand as the government convenes to consider animal welfare concerns. The discussions on 2 June involve a formal hearing with a Select Committee mulling over a ban on rodeo.
The Select Committee hearing will include an address from SAFE, SPCA New Zealand, and Farmwatch. The groups formed a coalition that collected over 62,000 signatures, demonstrating widespread support for a rodeo ban and prompting the government to consider the issue. Now they say the level of opposition to rodeo is greater than ever before.
“Kiwis want rodeo gone. The days of treating animals like this are well and truly numbered,” says Shanti Ahluwalia, SAFE’s Campaigns Officer. “If New Zealand truly wants to be seen as leaders in animal welfare then there is only one choice: we must stop terrifying animals this way and ban rodeo.”
“The SPCA is completely opposed to rodeo and we would like to see it banned,” says Ric Odom, SPCA New Zealand CEO. “Rodeos can be a terrifying and stressful experience for the animals involved, yet they are currently legal. The SPCA believes no animal should be subjected to such cruelty, especially simply for the entertainment of people.”
There are currently approximately 35 rodeo events taking place around the country. The organisations say that rodeo is a form of entertainment based entirely on distressing animals for fun and as such directly contravenes the Animal Welfare Act, which calls for animals to be handled in a way that minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress. Animals in rodeo are forced to flee, and buck in terror. They are aggressively handled – from routine roping to wrestling.
Animals can sustain painful injuries, including torn ligaments, fractures and bruising. A horse and a bull died in the 2015-16 rodeo season, with two bulls killed in the previous season. Even when animals are not killed or injured, they are subjected to stress and fear purely for entertainment. They have no way of knowing it is ‘just for fun’, and it is highly distressing.
“Given the option, no animal would choose to participate in rodeo – yet people force them to ‘perform’ against their will. The petition shows that a significant number of New Zealanders want this rodeo cruelty to end and we’re encouraging the government to ban rodeo,” says Mr Odom.
“With the election coming next year, the government simply cannot afford to ignore so many New Zealanders calling for a rodeo ban,” says Mr Ahluwalia.