We seem on the brink of a sea change regarding the use/abuse of animals in entertainment: elephant bullhook bans; no more orca shows at SeaWorld; the demise of the Ringling Bros. Circus; 27 countries have outlawed wild-animal acts. Can rodeos, with their inherent cruelty, be far behind? After years of protests and the death of a roping calf at the 2007 Cloverdale rodeo, local activists jumped into the arena and unfurled anti-cruelty banners, stopping the show. This helped convince the City Council to drop the four most egregious rodeo events: calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling and “wild cow milking,” leaving only saddle bronc, bareback bronc, bull riding and women’s barrel racing. The rodeo lost its CPRA sanctioning, yet the major cowboys still compete, thanks to hefty prize monies. Attendance has increased, while the protests have almost disappeared – a “win/win.” This is a scenario U.S. rodeos should consider. A rodeo documentary along the order of “Blackfish” would also be helpful. For most of the animals, rodeo is merely a detour en route to the slaughterhouse. They deserve better.
Eric Mills, Action for Animals, Oakland