Animal activists to lobby US ambassador over rodeo

Updated: 2011-07-30 07:26

By Cang Wei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - A coalition of 71 Chinese animal rights groups on Friday released a statement calling for the cancellation of Rodeo China, the Sino-US cultural exchange event that will introduce what it termed commercially driven cruelty to the country.

Qin Xiaona, head of the Capital Animal Welfare Association, said an open letter will be sent to Gary Locke, the United States ambassador to China, to call on the US to cancel the event.

The letter says the cruelty in rodeo shows cannot be concealed by "any animal welfare measures enforced by anyone under any pretext", and that even many Americans consider rodeos to be abusive.

The rodeo, which will last from Oct 3 to 10 at the Bird's Nest, the main stadium of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, is part of a cultural exchange program between China and the US.

The Chinese government approved the event, billed as "the Super Bowl of rodeo", in April. About 120 cowboys, 180 horses, 36 bulls and 90 steers will be involved.

Representatives from 69 animal rights organizations held their first news conference on July 15, one day after the Chinese organizers of the show stopped contact with them.

"We don't know why they stopped communicating with us," said Qin. "We want to get in touch with them again, for the sake of the animals that will be involved in the show."

Guo Tiefu, a spokesman for US organizers Rodeo China, told China Daily earlier that the event will be staged as planned, and the animals used will be protected according to the law.

However, Liu Huili, a researcher from the Green Beagle, a non-government agency, said that although the organizers have promised no harm to the animals, the facts indicate otherwise.

"A micro blog forwarded by the US embassy cited statistics from a journal that said only one animal is injured in every 1,772 rodeos," Liu said. "We find the statistics very unreliable."

"In Cheyenne Frontier Days, a rodeo that was held from July 22 to 31 this year in Wyoming, a horse died and five calves and three steers were hurt.

"Nobody knows the exact number of animals being killed or injured in rodeos, but currently the number in China is zero. Please don't break this record."

Although the Ministry of Culture has banned shows that have violent content since 1997, and the State Forestry Administration has stopped shows that treat animals cruelly since 2010, China has no specific animal protection laws.

"We are calling for animal protection legislation that will effectively prevent such events, which are based on cruelty to animals, from entering China," said Qin.

China Daily

(China Daily 07/30/2011 page2)