I believe there are two types. Type A: People who quite literally have little or no empathy for animals and type B: People who just fancy a day out with their mates and have for some reason never really sat down and considered it from the animals’ point of view.
There is nothing we can do about the type As unless we invent an empathy pill. But type Bs, well, I like to think that there is still hope for them. That perhaps they might read something like this and think long and hard about the ethics of using animals for entertainment in this way.
Let’s imagine you’re a rodeo bull. Your instinct tells you that these humans are not your friends and you’re dead right. You’ve been poked and prodded and pushed around until you cannot take any more. You are jeered at, teased, provoked, then forced into the pen where flank straps and electric prods are used to torment you further, making you appear wild and untamed. And that’s all before the REAL fun begins.
In fact, you’re not wild at all, just tormented. You’d rather be in a paddock eating grass and not in some loud area fearing for your life. This hideous sequence happens over and over again for many bulls forced to travel from rodeo to rodeo (and then there are the practice rounds, too!)
But what if you’re just a baby? One of the fragile calves used for the calf-roping event. You’ll be running for your life when a rope suddenly tightens around your neck and snaps you back sharply before you are slammed to the ground by a grown man, your legs bound, rendered helpless. (Play a video of calf-roping in slow motion and you will see how violent it is.) It’s grown man vs baby animal in a cruel display of dominance. And for what? Entertainment? Personally, I can think of 100 better ways to entertain myself that don’t cause unnecessary suffering to innocent beings.
Something else that really upsets me is seeing children at these events. What are we teaching them? What messages are being implanted in their innocent minds? Children know instinctively that animal abuse is wrong but adults undo this when they openly condone it. Somehow rodeo must be ok because mum and dad are enjoying it. If kids grow up believing that this is normal and acceptable and fun, what hope is there that they will grow into compassionate adults?
To examine whether something is humane, first determine whether you would want it done to you.
Rodeo promoters go out of their way to fool the public into believing that animal welfare is a priority and that rodeos are humane. I don’t buy it. Entertainment should never be at the expense of others.
So please boycott the rodeo. Write to the sponsors and convey your disappointment. Write to your local paper, your council, your mayor. Don’t stand back and watch it happen. Stand up for the animals!
Laura Gentle, National Volunteer Coordinator