10,000 sign petition to stop rodeo

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The rodeo is coming to Hamilton's Claudelands Arena. Photo / Thinkstock
The rodeo is coming to Hamilton's Claudelands Arena. Photo / Thinkstock

More than 10,000 people have signed a petition to stop Saturday's New Zealand International Rodeo at Claudelands Event Centre.

But the rodeo looks set to go ahead amid calls from Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) and a Hamilton animal activist that rodeo is a dated blood sport and should be banned.

Rodeo organiser Darryl Tombleson says there have never been any injuries to animals, or people, in his rodeo in the five years it's been operating.

"We have vets on site and structures in place to ensure there aren't any injuries. I appreciate their opinion but we are pedantic about ensuring the animals' safety," said Mr Tombleson. "I've never understood the mentality of people jumping up and down without knowing the facts."

SAFE campaign manager Mandy Carter said rodeo had "nothing to do with New Zealand".

"It's not a tradition here - it's something that's been imported from the US. The animals are genuinely scared. The animals are put under an enormous amount of stress.

It's totally unacceptable.

"We encourage pet owners to lock cats and dogs inside and to put horses away in stables around Guy Fawkes but the animals [in the rodeo] are metres from pyrotechnics and loud music. It's twisted logic."

Mr Tombleson said pyrotechnics would not be used in this year's rodeo. "The short answer is we are not using pyrotechnics, we are using some visuals."

He said the 'visuals' consisted of "flame cannons suspended in the air". A press release about the show stated the rodeo would feature pyrotechnics.

Animal activist Alvina Edwards started an online petition which has drawn signatures from throughout the world.

"Rodeo is banned in many countries. It is banned in Auckland," said Ms Edwards. Auckland Council passed a resolution banning rodeos from council-owned land following public backlash at plans for Auckland to host a tri-nations rodeo in June 2008.

Ms Edwards hoped the rodeo wouldn't go ahead. "Money is valued far more than animal welfare. It's about greed and revenue gathering."

SAFE are organising protests against tomorrow's rodeo.

Mayor Julie Hardaker has been condemned for allowing the rodeo to be hosted at a council-owned facility and some want her to stand down as chairwoman of Waikato SPCA.

Hamilton City Council events facilities' director of business development and marketing Murray Jeffrey said "council is not hosting the event; it is hiring the facility to the event promoters and organisers. The event complies with council's event venues booking policy and last year drew a sold-out crowd of 4200 at Claudelands."

The show will feature top Kiwi showjumper Katie McVean in a stunt riding display, alongside other riders from New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada.

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