A bull riding competition being held in Adelaide this weekend is unethical and inhumane and should not have been approved by Adelaide Entertainment Centre management, the RSPCA says.
RSPCA animal welfare advocate Dr Rebekah Eyers said the society wrote to the venue six months ago, urging it to cancel the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Adelaide Invitational on animal welfare grounds.
“We’re very disappointed that the Adelaide Entertainment Centre would promote this type of event,” Dr Eyers said.
“What sort of message are we sending to our children when we promote a rodeo or a bull riding event as family entertainment?
“They profit from stressing animals for human entertainment … but still the Adelaide Entertainment Centre decided to go ahead and run this event.”
Dr Eyers said the use of equipment to get the bulls to buck placed extreme stress on them.
“Bull riding is based on provoking that stress so that the bulls will perform an extreme type of bucking,” Dr Eyers said.
“They’re often trying to charge the riders once they’ve managed to get rid of them. Sometimes the bulls are so stressed that they end up running at solid objects within the arena.”
RSPCA declined invitation, PBR Australia says
Adelaide Venue Management, which operates the Adelaide Entertainment Centre, declined to comment.
But General Manager of PBR Australia, Glen Young, said no laws were being broken and insisted the animals are cared for.
He said standards within the industry around the treatment of bulls had improved within recent years.
“They’re getting a lot more looked after — they’ve got the animal nutritionists coming in to create their diets, they’re regularly vet checked, they’re lasting longer,” he said.
“After the sport they’ve got a breeding program that they’re valuing too, so these animals have definitely got a better life than what they had two decades ago.”
Mr Young encouraged RSPCA representatives to witness the Adelaide event, as happened in interstate bull riding competitions.
“We’ve also invited the RSPCA to this event because [in] every other state they will normally come to our events and, you know, oversee,” he said.
“But they’ve declined to attend this event so it’s not like we’ve got a closed book.”
Mr Young accused some critics of the sport as not wanting “to be educated”, and said there was strong support for the sport.
“It’s an overwhelming response — the event’s sold out, so there is obviously fans down here that do want to see it.”
Rodeos showcase violence, should be banned: RSPCA
Dr Eyers said bull riding and rodeo events should be banned by law, as they have been in other jurisdictions.
“These bulls are not athletes, they don’t choose to participate in these events,” she said.
“When they’re experiencing a bull riding event they don’t know how long the ordeal is going to last and they don’t choose to have flank straps, spurs and prods used on them.”
The RSPCA said it was such instruments that caused the bulls to buck in a “very extreme way”, exposing them to the risk of injury.
“That is why the UK and the ACT in Australia have both banned bull riding and associated rodeo events and we would definitely hope to see bull riding and rodeo events banned in South Australia sometime soon,” Dr Eyers said.
“If you look at the way that rodeo events work, if you look at the way bull riding works it is basically a showcase for using animals, stressing animals, for the sole purpose of human entertainment — that in itself is a form of violence.”