The once very popular rodeo is gradually becoming less and less popular as an increasing number of Americans become aware of just how unpleasant these events can be for the animals forced to participate.
The Santa Barbara Rodeo, which is scheduled to take place later this week, is one of several events on the Old Spanish Days Fiesta calendar. But rodeos, like Spanish bullfights and bull runs, are no longer the revered example of Spanish culture they once were.
People in Spain are increasingly divided over the suffering that animals endure during these types of events, with only 5.9% of the population in favor of continuing these sorts of spectacles.
Several countries across Europe have banned rodeos outright, with a number of U.S. states following suit. But despite its reputation as one of the most progressive states in America, California still continues to host rodeo events.
Following years of physical protests outside the showground, over 1500 Santa Barbara County members have signed a petition to cancel the Santa Barbara rodeo on the grounds that it is a “cruel, outdated and completely unnecessary form of entertainment that involves the painful, stressful and harmful treatment of animals.”
The petition states that “the horses, bulls, steer, and calves suffer broken ribs, backs, and legs, torn tails, punctured lungs, internal organ damage, ripped tendons, torn ligaments, snapped necks, and agonizing deaths.”
Travel between events can be punishing for the animals as well, as they are often transported over long distances in hot and overcrowded trucks and trailers. Sadly, the official rules of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association permit them to be confined during transport for as long as 24 hours without being fed or watered.
Earlier this week, the petition to cancel the rodeo was sent to Mayor Murillo and Santa Barbara City Council Members, who were asked to demonstrate that Santa Barbara “does not exploit animals for entertainment.”
“How can we call ourselves a progressive and compassionate city while still hosting this type of event?” argues one of the petitioners: “The type of event that has been banned outright in many European countries for the unnecessary suffering it inflicts.”
While the feelings of many Santa Barbara residents have been made very clear, it’s not yet known if the city will respond to the request.