Rodeo: a most un-Kiwi ‘tradition’

I moved to New Zealand at the start of 2015 to work for SAFE. One of the things I quickly picked up on is how proud Kiwis are of this country, heritage and all things NZ. And rightly so; this country has a lot of offer whether you’re a beachgoer or an intrepid explorer! But one thing I can’t get my head around is rodeo, which is distinctly un-Kiwi. Rodeos started around 200 years ago overseas and can be traced back to farming traditions in the US. They have nothing to do with Kiwi agricultural practices but have developed into hideous shows where cruelty to animals is encouraged and applauded. Farmers would strive not to cause their animals undue stress, whilst the very existence of rodeo rests on them doing so as it induces them to ‘perform’.

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Calf roping cruelty

One of the most controversial events in rodeo, calf roping, sees terrified calves chased across the arena, reaching speeds of up to 35 kilometres per hour, before being roped around the neck, thrown to the ground and having their legs tied. These babies are taken from their mothers, to be used in this way until they suffer serious injury or until the rodeo organisers are finished with them and they will be sent to the slaughterhouse. How this can be linked to anything related to NZ tradition is beyond me.

Whichever way you look at it, rodeo is a blatant display of animal cruelty in which grown men overpower defenceless animals, some still babies. Imagine if we did similar to puppies and kittens; people would be horrified! Large parts of NZ are pretty wild but let’s be honest, this isn’t the Wild West! There is no justification for roping animals at speed, twisting their head so far around that they are forced to the ground, or clinging to the back of a fiercely bucking horse or bull. And let’s not forget that the animals in rodeo are not willing participants. Unlike the contestants, they do not choose to enter the arena and risk injury. They experience genuine fear, not fun.

Time to get rid of rodeo

Rodeo is already banned from Auckland Council land and condemned by vets, welfare experts and animal protection organisations worldwide. Multiple investigations at NZ rodeos show horrific abuse and suffering, and the law, which supposedly protects the animals, is a joke. Let’s celebrate everything this fantastic country has to be proud of and push aside cruel rodeo, especially since it isn’t even from NZ! To help animals suffering in rodeos, join us in calling for a total ban on this macabre and un-Kiwi form of ‘entertainment’. It’s time to buck the cruelty! Abi Izzard, Campaigns Officer

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