End of the line for Mid Northern rodeo?November 28th, 2019
This article was originally published in the Northland Age.
Animal rights organisation Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) announced yesterday that it had been “reliably informed” that the Mid Northern Rodeo had cancelled its event in January, staged every year since the 1960s, due to financial pressures.
“This really is a win for the animals,” spokesman Will Appelbe said.
“Businesses who sponsor-ed this rodeo pulled their support when footage emerged of appalling treatment of animals.
“Footage of an animal handler illegally shocking young calves was also captured, which the Ministry for Primary Industries let off with a warning, but businesses and the public are voting with their wallets, and the organisers are now strapped for cash.
“Rodeo is cruel, and caring Kiwis don’t want to support animal abuse.”
Lynn Charlton, from Anti-Rodeo Action NZ, credited the “financial fallout” to two seasons of bad publicity.
“In 2017 a Checkpoint story showed panicked rodeo animals fighting handlers, a bull crawling on all fours, calves jabbed with an electric shocking device, a horse’s head caught under its neck during a fall, another horse somersaulting, and the torso of a calf almost hitting the back of its head during calf roping,” she said.
“Public outrage followed, with sponsors acting swiftly to protect their brands. Eleven companies withdrew sponsorship. Some had not been aware of just how cruel rodeo was.
“This year attendance was again down, and activists videoing at the rodeo were subjected to assaults, foul language, attempts to wrestle cameras from them and threats of violence by a mob. A smartphone was snatched and the images deleted.
“New Zealanders in general do not support cruelty. Clubs know that apart from the limited rodeo public, the rest of New Zealand is appalled at the violence inflicted on animals at these events, and do not want you seeing it.
“Rodeo claims it is a sport, but what sport does not want the public seeing close-up images of their athletes in action? What sport stops members of the wider public from attending?
“Most sports are proud of their athletes and want publicity.”
Among new requirements for the rodeo association was the formation of a committee comprising veterinarians, MPI and rodeo officials, the commissioning of research to assess impacts on animals, monitoring of physical markers three days post-event, monitoring and keeping records of all animals used in training, and addressing keeping underweight steers for wrestling.
“Those in rodeos sign up to have fun, not serious consideration for animal welfare, endless, expensive and time-consuming meetings, committees and paperwork – and now research,” she added.