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"We’re Falling Behind": New Zealand Must Ban Rodeo To Sustain Our Position As Leader In Animal Welfare

Animal Rights organisation SAFE is urging the Government to follow quickly on the heels of Los Angeles and ban rodeo, to uphold the country’s animal welfare status.

As rodeo season kicks off in Aotearoa, the Los Angeles City Council has voted in favour of banning rodeo events within its city limits (with exceptions relating to cultural activities such as CharrerÃa), marking a pivotal moment in the city's commitment to animal welfare. The announcement came yesterday, 6 December.

SAFE CEO Debra Ashton says that Aotearoa must take a stand against rodeo cruelty, and quickly.

"We market ourselves as leaders in animal welfare, but we are quickly falling behind the rest of the world in many areas. One such area is rodeo."

"Last season, two bulls and one horse were killed within three days of each other at rodeo events in New Zealand, underscoring the pressing need to close the book on rodeo for good."

Los Angeles is poised to join several other Californian cities like Pasadena and San Francisco in banning rodeo events, aligning with international jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the Australian Capital Territory, where rodeos are already prohibited.

Despite the international momentum in banning rodeo events, Ashton says that New Zealand policymakers are dragging their feet on protecting Aotearoa’s animals from barbaric rodeo cruelty and upholding basic tenets of the Animal Welfare Act.

"New Zealand’s animal welfare laws require that animals are handled in a manner which minimises unreasonable or unnecessary pain and distress. Yet most common rodeo practices - such as calf roping, horse bucking and steer wrestling - simply cannot be performed without intentionally exposing animals to fear and suffering."

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"What’s more, the code of welfare for rodeo has been sitting in limbo with the National Animal Welfare Advisory since last year, and still has not been released for public consultation."

In a 2020 Horizon poll, 66 percent of Kiwi respondents agreed that rodeos cause pain and suffering to animals, and it is not worth causing this pain and suffering for the sake of entertainment.

"Until a ban is imposed, animals will continue to suffer and die," says Ashton.

"If New Zealand aims to be world leaders in animal welfare, a ban on rodeo ought to be a no-brainer."

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