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Opposition to rodeos mounts as season begins

Friday, 23 October, 2015

Opposition to Rodeos

On the eve of the New Zealand rodeo season, which begins Saturday 24 October, SPCA New Zealand, SAFE, and Farmwatch are calling for an outright ban on rodeos in New Zealand.

The three animal welfare organisations joined forces recently to launch an offline and online petition at that has so far gathered more than 30,000 signatures (7,525 on paper and 22,696 online).

“If someone abused their pets in the ways animals are abused in rodeos, chances are we would look at prosecuting them,” says Ric Odom, CEO of SPCA New Zealand.

“We believe if most New Zealanders saw the abuse that routinely happens at rodeos, they would support our call for a ban.”

At rodeos animals are routinely kicked, slapped, grabbed, chased, given electric shocks, wrestled, and roped. As a result of these actions animals can suffer painful injuries, including broken bones, spinal injuries, and bruising, as well as experiencing severe stress and fear. Horses and bulls are forced to buck, and young calves are roped and thrown to the ground.

Click here to view footage showing the violent abuse of animals during last year’s New Zealand rodeo season.

“A total of 41 rodeos will be held in New Zealand between now and March 2016. During that time hundreds of animals will be subjected to needless pain and suffering in rodeos. That is completely unacceptable,” says Mandy Carter, Head of Campaigns at SAFE.

“The feedback we have had from our petition so far has been overwhelmingly supportive. People are horrified that this violent abuse is still allowed to go on.”

Two bulls died at rodeos during the last New Zealand season. Late last year the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) stated that they continue to have reservations about the performance of rodeos.

“The Animal Welfare Act requires that animals not be subjected to unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress – yet this is precisely what happens at rodeos,” says Mr Odom.

“Rodeos should not be considered a fun family day out because they are a horrific and terrifying experience for the animals involved. We are totally opposed to rodeos because they are inhumane.”

According to John Darroch from Farmwatch: “We’re asking the New Zealand public to boycott rodeos this summer and sign our petition at to have rodeos banned for good. We also encourage corporate sponsors not to support events like rodeos where animals are subjected to pain and suffering.”

The three main events of a rodeo are bucking events, steer wrestling, and calf roping.

Calf roping: Three-month-old calves are trapped in chutes, where they are given electric shocks, their tails are twisted, and they are often kicked and slapped. Once released, they are chased in an arena, roped around the neck, and thrown to the ground by a cowboy who ties their legs together. Being chased at high speed, jerked to a sudden stop, and then flipped onto their backs can cause spinal damage, broken bones, and internal bleeding. In some cases this is fatal.

Bucking events: Horses and bulls aren’t ‘born to buck’, and they don’t buck because they enjoy it. Rodeo animals buck because they are forced to wear a flank strap, which is tied tightly around their hindquarters. This causes pain and discomfort, and the animal bucks to try to get rid of it. Being forced to buck in an arena full of spectators is stressful and terrifying for rodeo animals.

Steer wrestling: In this event a steer (a castrated male cattle) is chased in a rodeo arena, grabbed by the horns and twisted to the ground by a cowboy. An animal would never naturally twist their neck in the way it is forced on them in steer wrestling. As a result, they can suffer injuries including a broken neck, broken horns, and spinal injuries.

Please sign the online petition here asking the Government to pass legislation to ban rodeos and put an end to these cruel practices.