IN THE NEWS: Rodeos are horrifying entertainment, says Gold Coast mayor

IN THE NEWS: On JUN 18, 2009

GOLD Coast Mayor, Ron Clarke, thinks rodeos are "horrifying" and "human entertainment at the expense of animals".

He said he attended his one and only rodeo after being invited to one featuring horses and bulls at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre two years ago.

"I've been told that animals love it but that's not how I saw it," he said. "I hated seeing what they do to animals to make them buck. They (pro rodeo people) say that they love bucking, so why do they stop bucking when the riders are off and the belts around them are loosened?"

Straps are placed around animals' flanks and tightened uncomfortably to encourage them to buck.

"I thought it was horrifying and didn't stay long," he said. "I'm an animal lover and get upset when I see them being tormented to act out of character. They (rodeos) are definitely human entertainment at the animals' expense."

Anti rodeo groups are angry that another rodeo will be held at the centre next Friday and Saturday. The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) president, Troy Dunn, billed the event as "a two night, knock 'em down, drag `em out action spectacular..... with the nation's fiercest beasts and the world's toughest athletes."

Cr Clarke said the rodeo was run as a private function and not endorsed by the council. "If the organisers ever seek money from the council for the event, I'll certainly be voting against it."

Wendy Parsons from Animals Australia said a horse died after crashing into a fence at a Gold Coast rodeo in January while children watched. She said filming is usually banned at rodeos so activists are prevented from getting evidence of cruelty. "At a rodeo in South Australia this year I smuggled in a video and filmed a bull breaking its leg and being shot and a steer limping off on three legs.

"This is what the rodeo industry calls family entertainment."

She said she hid under a truck as security officers searched for her to confiscate the footage.

RSPCA spokesman, Michael Beatty believes all rodeos should be banned because they are cruel.

Brian Sherman, managing director of the animal protection institute, Voiceless, said "rodeos are an entertainment spectacle built on the back of a huge amount of animal suffering."

"Animals are also forced to participate in extremely physical and inherently risky activities which can lead to injuries, pain and death," he said.

" The Australian Capital Territory has banned rodeos and Voiceless calls on other state and territory governments to follow suit and bring an end to the legalised suffering of animals in rodeos."

ast year, the State Government gave the Mount Isa rodeo organisers $50,000 to undertake a feasibility study into how to expand it.

The Premier, Anna Bligh defended the funding saying there were "strict rules" to protect animals and riders. The rodeo was one of the winners announced last week in the government's Queensland 150 Icons competition to celebrate the state's 150th birthday.

Animal Liberation's Annette Guice said Australians should not be glorifying animal abuse as something be be celebrated.

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