July 8, 2008


Leaflets distributed by the SPCA in an earlier campaign against rodeos.

The Auckland City Council has banned rodeos from council-owned land within the city, and the move has been applauded by animal welfare activists SAFE.

The Auckland City Council made the decision last week, citing animal welfare concerns. The ban is a first for New Zealand.

Following public comments from mayor John Banks against rodeos, and with concerns that organisers of the first indoor international rodeo held in Christchurch last year would attempt to stage the event in Auckland, SAFE saw an opportunity to be proactive, resulting in the ban.

After a picture from the Wanaka rodeo featured in The Herald last week, Banks told the newspaper he was disappointed at the way animals were "distressed for human entertainment" during rodeo events.

SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation) made a submission to the council under proposed new animal bylaws, and SAFE campaign officer Eliot Pryor presented evidence of injuries suffered by animals performing in New Zealand rodeos. He also explained to the councillors the extreme stress that rodeo animals are forced to endure so that they 'perform'.

"The rodeo is an outdated and inherently cruel way of treating animals and sets a terrible example, especially for a younger audience. We welcome the Council's decision and commend them for taking the issue seriously," Pryor said.

SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek congratulated the council for recognising the importance of animal welfare. "This monumental decision demonstrates that Auckland City Council is serious about preventing animal abuse. It is an enlightened stance that we hope will be emulated by councils around the country," he said.

"Rodeo animals are goaded, tormented and forced to endure needless suffering and gross mistreatment, all for the sake of so-called entertainment.

"Rodeos are turning into extravagant pyrotechnic-charged spectacles in an effort to attract a new inner-city audience, however these events are still founded on abusing animals. The Auckland City Council's decision sends a strong message to the rodeo industry that Auckland does not tolerate animal cruelty," Kriek said.

SAFE believes the council's ban will thwart efforts by an international rodeo promoter to bring the event to Auckland as part of Rugby World Cup events in 2011. Last year's first international indoor rodeo in Christchurch was fiercely opposed by SAFE.

"When seen objectively the rodeo cannot be defended as traditional culture or safe entertainment, and the council was receptive to our point of view," Pryor said.

In the latest issue of the magazine Animals' Voice, SPCA Auckland Chief Executive Bob Kerridge said rodeos were designed for human entertainment to the detriment of the animals. "You have grown men trying to be macho over animals and for what purpose other than self-gratification and money?

"The rodeo is animal abuse at its very worst, and for all the wrong reasons. It is not entertainment, it is not amusing, it is not educational, and it certainly serves no constructive purpose."

In the 1990s, SPCA Auckland ran a three-year campaign which led to rodeos being banned at Auckland's Easter Show. As part of that campaign, the society produced a series of flyers - entitled "Auckland SPCA Against Rodeos" - urging people to sign its petition.

In 2004, the SPCA voiced its objections to the government's new Animal Welfare (Rodeos) Code and stated that animals used in rodeos are characteristically coerced into becoming aggressive and violent through the use of electric prods, flank straps, spurs and ropes. The SPCA said then that such practices result in stress, torment and fear for the animals and exposed them to the likelihood of pain, injury and sometimes death.

"If NAWAC [the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee responsible for recommending the code of welfare] doesn't have the guts to recommend a total ban on rodeos, it could at least call for an end to events such as calf roping, steer wrestling and bareback bronco riding," the SPCA said.

"It's hard to see how these activities can be reconciled with the Animal Welfare Act, which specifically calls for animals to be handled in a way that minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress."