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Bullying tactics from rodeo spectators to silence protestors

14 January 2019 | MEDIA RELEASE
SAFE disgusted by the bullying tactics of rodeo spectators to silence protestors

SAFE is disgusted by the behaviour towards anti rodeo activists at the Mid Northern Rodeo over the weekend.

Activists at the Mid Northern Rodeo in Whangarei on Saturday held a peaceful protest outside the event, while others bought tickets to enter the event to record footage of the animals being abused. Both groups were confronted with aggressive, bullying behaviour for speaking out against the cruelty of rodeo.

SAFE’s Head of Campaigns Marianne Macdonald says the behaviour of rodeo supporters at Saturday’s Mid Northern Rodeo says a lot about the culture of rodeo.

“Vigilantes in the crowd took it upon themselves to confront in the most appalling way, people peacefully filming,” says Ms Macdonald.

“Rodeo organisers deny that they bully animals, yet the spectators believe they can take it upon themselves to physically assault others in attendance, just like the cowboys' assault animals in the rodeo arena.”

The Mid Northern Rodeo has been the site of a previous warning from the Ministry for Primary Industries for breaching animal welfare law. Legal action is also proceeding against an animal handler at the same rodeo for his illegal use of an electric prod on young calves.

“Filming and cameras have been banned at many rodeo events. The organisers claim that that content can be taken out of context and used to show rodeo in a bad light. However, they can’t get away from the fact that the context is rodeo, and the content is animal abuse,” says Macdonald.

“Just last week we learned that a second animal had been killed at the Gisborne Rodeo, a fact that the Rodeo Cowboys Association kept very quiet, even after the public learned that a bull had been killed.”

“The Mid Northern Rodeo, in particular, has a history of illegal treatment of animals, and without video footage captured by activists, the public will never know when animals are abused or killed,”

“The public has had enough of the disgraceful display of human dominance over animals at rodeos. It is urgent that the Government steps in and bans rodeo cruelty immediately.”

Footage of Calf Roping at 2019 Mid Northern rodeo captured by activists before they were bullied and assaulted by spectators.
Footage from the 2017 Mid Northern rodeo when an animal handler was filmed shocking calves, which is part of the evidence of a case currently being taken against him by the New Zealand Animal Law Association.
Notes for Editor
• The 2018 NAWAC (the Governments animal welfare advisors) Report ‘Rodeo events – How do they impact the sentient animal?’ stated they have either moderate or serious concerns over the impact on animals of all rodeo events except barrel racing (over which they have minor concerns).
• Two animals were killed at the Gisborne Rodeo on December 27 2018. A bull was shot after his leg was dislocated, which was witnessed by those in attendance and confirmed by the organisers shortly afterwards. Last week a whistleblower came forward to SAFE to report that a horse had also been killed at the same event, which the organisers had kept quiet about.

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