Rodeos are inherently cruel. Animals are grabbed, chased, wrestled, and roped in aggressive displays. The animals are stressed and frightened, unaware that it's just for entertainment. Some animals can sustain injuries such as torn ligaments, broken bones, bruising and internal damage. In some cases these are so severe the animals die or are killed on site. Two bulls were killed in events during the 2014-15 rodeo season, with a horse and bull killed in the 2015-16 season. No records of the number of animals that may be killed and injured in rodeo training sessions, are made public.
Provoked and tormented
Animals used in rodeos are not wild animals. Normally docile bulls and horses are induced into aggressive behaviour by painful or irritating means such as 'flank straps', electric prods, tail twisting, and painful spurs - leading to aggravated and enraged animals who will perform. Terrified calves are chased and roped around the neck before being thrown to the ground.
Rodeos, which originated from farming practices in the US 200 years ago, have nothing to do with Kiwi agricultural traditions but have developed into gruesome spectacles where cruelty to animals is encouraged and applauded. Unlike the contestants, who voluntarily risk injury by participating in events, the animals have no such choice - they're captive performers.
Condemned by vets, welfare experts and animal protection organisations worldwide, rodeo has been banned in parts of Europe, Australia, Brazil, Canada and the U.S, and there is a partial ban in the U.K. Other countries prohibit certain events such as calf roping. In New Zealand rodeos are banned from Auckland Council land.
A vet's perspective
"Risking injury and creating intense distress in the name of entertainment cannot be acceptable. It doesn’t take an expert to see the fear in the eyes of the animals used in rodeos. A contest between a consenting “man” and a scared, provoked animal surely cannot be regarded as sport. More so when the animal is a mere baby."
Stephanie Lane, BVSc
Footage from 2017 shows calves being wrenched off the ground by ropes around their necks; their necks twisted as they are thrown down by rodeo performers; bulls struggling to climb out of the chutes; a bull grabbed by his ear and the inside of his nostrils to force him back into a pen. The animals filmed are showing obvious signs of fear and distress.
2014 footage shot by investigators at a local Huntly rodeo shows rough treatment, especially of young animals. This rodeo later took the decision to close following an investigation into animal welfare.