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Rodeos are degrading entertainment meant to give the audience a kick by showing off the power we human apes – especially the male apes among us – can wield over other animals when they are trapped and can’t get away. For no reason but people getting off on the sight of it, and some folks making a buck off it, animals suffer pain and psychological torment. Many animals limp out. A few are paralyzed and pulled out on sleds. Some die. Bulls and other animals no longer performing in rodeos will be slaughtered.

Because bulls, calves and horses can be worth a lot of money, it’s claimed that “professional” riders and ropers care about their welfare. But the priority is the show, the money, the excited crowd.

As Friends of Animals president Priscilla Feral says, “No one who respects other conscious animals would twist their tails in a chute or tighten straps around their flanks to provoke them to buck, as a bunch of people look on, hooting and hollering.”

Physical Assaults: To promote bucking, a thick flank strap is pulled around an animal’s abdomen to squeeze the genital area. Devices the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (the world’s largest rodeo association) accepts are electric prods, straps, and spurs.

Bull Riding:

As with “broncos,” bulls are routinely tormented to present the action. As the Professional Bull Riders’ website itself says, bull riders wear thick, metal spurs and use bucking straps in order to provoke bucking and “wild” action needed to present this macho image of domination and control. These things would be called instruments of sadistic torture if used on the human ape.

Half of a bull rider’s score is based on how violently the bull reacts when attempting to throw the rider. The Professional Bull Riders swear it’s humane and sporting; we know it can never be. A sport is two willing participants. Animals aren’t willing participants.

Calf Roping:

In roping events, calves are forced to run out of the chute, reaching speeds of 30 mph, only to have their necks snapped back by a lasso. The faster they run, the harder they hit the ground. As Tom Regan writes, “So here we have today’s brave cowboy, bending over and tying up a frightened, dazed, disoriented baby (the animals are all of four to five months old), with neck or back injuries, bruises, broken bones, and internal hemorrhages.” Some calves, Regan explains, “do not do encores. It’s one performance and out. They either die in the dust or soon after.” As a vet who has witnessed the injuries explains, this slamming to the ground causes severed tracheas or spinal columns, and the rupture of internal organs, and often a resultant slow death. “And they call this ‘sport.””*

Animals don’t choose these activities; you do. Consider the importance of deciding to stop supporting the coercion and exploitation of other animals. Many ways to have fun don’t involve harming or exploiting other animals.

Please also consider the way other animals are also exploited to produce food and clothing. Meat, milk and leather all come from animals bred and reared to serve our needs. Taking the interests of other animals seriously means allowing them to live on their terms.

*Tom Regan, Empty Cages (2004), citing E.J. Finocchio, DVM.