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62,000-strong Ban Rodeo Petition to be handed to Parliament

Thursday, 17 March, 2016

Martinborough 11Today, leading animal advocacy organisations SAFE, SPCA and Farmwatch will be outside Parliament to hand in their joint petition calling for an end to rodeo. The petition will be handed to Green MP Mojo Mathers, calling on the Government to make this the last ever rodeo season. The petition has attracted over 62,000 signatures, a figure the groups say demonstrates the strength of anti-rodeo feeling in New Zealand.

The call comes as the rodeo season draws to a close. The organisations argue that rodeo is both unethical and inherently cruel, saying that animals are routinely grabbed, chased, wrestled and roped in aggressive displays and that they can sustain painful injuries. Two animals have died during events in the New Zealand 2015-2016 rodeo season – a horse in Te Anau and a bull in Richmond.

The three groups believe that causing animals to suffer for entertainment is both unreasonable and unnecessary, and therefore rodeos are in total contradiction of the requirements of New Zealand law.

Ric Odom, National Chief Executive of the SPCA, says, “The purpose of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 is to protect every animal in New Zealand from cruelty, yet rodeo animals are subjected to pain and suffering in the name of entertainment. Rodeos are inherently cruel and completely unnecessary for the animals. The SPCA believes that allowing rodeos is like legalising animal cruelty – that’s why we want the law changed.

“There are no two ways about it, rodeos cause animal suffering. Animals are put under severe stress each time they enter the arena and are forced to perform,” says SAFE Executive Director, Hans Kriek. “Unaware that it is ‘just for entertainment’ some will genuinely fear for their lives, and with good reason given recent deaths.” The Rodeo Code of Welfare is, he says, already largely ineffective and regularly broken and change needs to happen. “It’s time for the government to step up and listen to what people are asking for. Rodeos serve no place in New Zealand and are nothing short of abuse for people’s entertainment.”

Jasmine Gray, spokesperson for Farmwatch, says, “Our investigators have witnessed animals collapse in chutes, young calves being chased and thrown to the ground, and bulls getting their legs caught in poor arena fencing. This is only some of the cruelty these animals experience regularly. There is no excuse for this kind of treatment of animals and we hope that a ban will be put in place."

Rodeos are condemned by vets, welfare experts and animal protection organisations worldwide. In New Zealand rodeo is banned from Auckland Council land and SAFE, SPCA and Farmwatch say it is time the rest of the country followed suit.

“People are tired of the excuses,” says Hans Kriek. “New Zealand is getting left behind and our reputation as a nation of animal lovers is in doubt. It’s time for rodeo to end, for good.”