ANIMAL activists have called on organisers of the Lugarno Lions Spring Festival to scrap a rodeo planned for the September 23 Gannons Park event.
Entertainer Sylvia Raye is one St George resident who is protesting against the use of animals in entertainment.
Ms Raye said the RSPCA, Animals Australia, Animal Liberation and 160 animal welfare groups around the world opposed rodeos as they caused fear and stress in animals.
‘‘Rodeos are banned in the UK, the ACT and elsewhere because of their cruelty,’’ she said.
The Spring Festival event will include bull riding, saddle bronco riding and barrel racing by members of the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association.
Competitor entry fees from the rodeo event will be donated to the St George Cancer Care Centre at St George Hospital.
‘‘I know they are raising money for the Cancer Care Centre at St George Hospital; however, I think I am in a strong position here as my husband died of a very rare lung cancer and was treated at St George Hospital,’’ Ms Raye said.
‘‘He was against using animals in entertainment, including rodeos.
‘‘It is great that money is going to charity but it is not great money is being raised through animal cruelty.
‘‘It is supremely ironic that the alleviation of pain is being assisted by inflicting it on other sentient beings.’’
A Hurstville Council spokeswoman said the council agreed to host the rodeo as part of its sister city relationship with Tamworth.
‘‘Just like the annual Royal Easter Show, the event, to be hosted by the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA), will showcase Australia’s top competitors,’’ she said.
‘‘The council is aware of minor community discussion about the welfare of participating animals; however, the ABCRA abide by the NSW government’s code of practice for animals used in rodeo events.
‘‘This code was prepared in consultation with rodeo organisers and animal welfare groups such as the RSPCA NSW, the Animal Welfare League NSW and the NSW Animal Welfare Advisory Council.
‘‘RSPCA NSW also confirmed they regularly inspected rodeos to assess the welfare of animals and compliance with the code of practice.’’
ABCRA’s general manager Dianne Hallam said apart from making sure events were tightly regulated, the association kept records of animal injuries.
She said that in a two-year period, during which animals were used almost 33,000 times, the injury rate was 0.02 per cent.
‘‘We prepare for injury because accidents do happen,’’ Ms Hallam said.
‘‘But riders’ injury rate tends to be 100 times the rate of animal injury.’’
Ms Hallam said the organisation was formed 65 years ago to raise money for charity and to display bush skills as a sport.
She said rodeos and campdrafts — part of an Australia-wide competition circuit — were family entertainment, brought communities together and were often the biggest annual events in regional communities.
The Leader was unable to contact a spokesman for Lugarno Lions.
Phill Bates, one of the festival organisers, and the man behind the show jumping of the past five years at the festival, said the event needed something different to attract crowds.
Mr Bates said everything would be done properly and there were many volunteers prepared to tidy up the grounds afterwards.
Others have their say:
* Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, Professor Barry Spurr:
‘‘Children invariably make up a considerable portion of the audiences at rodeos, which are promoted as family-friendly ‘entertainments’. If impressionable children are exposed, at a young age, to animals being brutalised for entertainment, then this becomes (whether consciously or sub-consciously) part of what they think is acceptable to do to animals.
* President of Sydney Pet Rescue and Adoption Michelle Alber:
‘‘This is a half cocked idea with no community consultation. If there had been a proper debate they would have realised many would oppose it in a strong manner.
‘‘Big businesses like Telstra and Kmart have abandoned support of a recent rodeo as they knew it would alienate their customers, many of whom are animal lovers.
Do you think the rodeo is a good idea?