Opposing the Rodeo

Opposing the Rodeo

Posted on 2 Feb 2015

We here at Advancing the Interests of Animals oppose the rodeo in all forms, including charreadas, or Mexican style rodeo. There is no doubt that animals are abused in the rodeo.

The Advancing the Interests of Animals rodeo opposition campaign consists of direct protests and providing information about the cruel practices involved in rodeo.

Consider calf roping, in which frightened three- to four- month-old animals are chased by a rider and then lassoed around the neck. Frequently the rope becomes taut so quickly that the calf’s neck is severely injured. In this video, you will see examples of the calves literally spinning in the air when the rope is pulled tight. Then, the animals are picked up and slammed down into the ground by the contestant who then ties three legs together. It is notable that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association no longer uses the term calf roping to describe this violent event that exploits and frequently injures the animals. Rather, “Tie down roping” is used, a term less likely to remind people that baby animals are being abused. This event bears little resemblance to the traditional techniques and skills used by real cowboys in the past. It is simply abuse of juvenile animals for entertainment and profit, all in the name of sport. It is nothing less than barbarism. Further, what lessons are we teaching our children who attend and participate in rodeo events? They learn that we people are in charge of animals and that they are here for us to use as we wish. It is not what we want our children to learn.



In 2010, when we were called Desert Paws, we participated in a vigorous protest of the Palm Springs rodeo, along with many concerned animal advocates. Despite our best efforts, the rodeo returned to Palm Springs in 2011. This time, patrons were confronted with our oversized video screen parked by the main entrance, on which we played video of the violent cruelty that is involved in rodeo. Below is our post from the Desert Paws website describing our protest and the outcome. As of January 2012 there is no indication that the rodeo will return!


Update on the Palm Springs Westfest (2011)

“A large mobile screen Desert Paws provided was set up near the main entrance of the rodeo. A video loop of rodeo cruelty played for all to see. Desert Paws members and other protestors took turns at the mic, narrating the gruesome footage and challenging patrons to reconsider their beliefs about the rodeo. So loud were the mobile speakers that we were clearly heard within the rodeo arena, providing a constant reminder to the customers.”

A victory for animals and those who care about them was scored last week when news of the financial trouble of the promoter, Chris Burkhart, of Spur of the Moment Productions, was published in the Desert Sun. Burkhart is considering bankruptcy and dozens of contractors and vendors did not get paid or lost money.

According to the Desert Sun, Burkhart “…cited a number of troubles, including high winds that closed local roads, a protest by animal rights activists, inadequate parking and the lack of support from the city of Palm Springs as contributing to the event’s failure.” “It was a poorly organized, unpleasant event,” said Tom Ackland, director of the Palm Springs USO. “It was the closest thing to a disaster as you can get.”

Tireless protestors from Desert Paws and other concerned animal advocates, with the added support of a huge video screen depicting the cruelty of rodeo for all to see, were active at the entrance of the event. Many patrons actually turned away and decided to do something other than support animal cruelty!

In an opinion piece, also in the Desert Sun, the author stated, “The event also needs to do more to appease animal activists, who do not protest every rodeo event out there, just those they deem as being cruel to animals.” We disagree. Desert Paws opposes any activity that utilizes and exploits animals for entertainment or profit. This includes all rodeos, and the use of animals in circuses, marine parks, and many zoos.

Here is the video we played on the Mega screen near the entrance of the 2011 Palm Springs WestFest.

Here is a video we produced with footage from Animal Cruelty Investigations / SPCA. It was presented to the Palm Springs City Council in 2011 as a request not to financially support the event. The city did not waive any fees or provide monetary aid to the 2011 WestFest.


Protest Against the Palm Springs Hot Rodeo (2012)

A spunky group of animal lovers gathered to protest the 2012 Palm Springs Hot Rodeo, which was held in Banning, CA. The Palm Springs Hot Rodeo caters to the gay community and includes other social events.

Organized by Advancing the Interests of Animals, the demonstrators stood with signs at the parking lot entrance, where they could interact with the patrons and distribute informational fliers.

The good news is many attendees left the event telling us they had now realized the cruelty of the rodeo. Update 2023: Unfortunately, the Palm Springs Hot Rodeo has continued and claims to be one of the top gay rodeo events in the US.


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