A recent bull riding event at Staples Center that sparked protests led the Board of Animal Services Commissioners Tuesday to unanimously approve a motion in support of banning such events in Los Angeles.
The City Council has taken a number of aggressive actions in recent years limiting the use of animals in entertainment settings, including a 2017 law prohibiting the display or renting out of elephants, snakes, tigers and other wild or exotic animals for many entertainment purposes, which effectively banned circuses which feature animals. A bill was recently introduced in the Legislature to create a similar statewide ban.
Los Angeles banned the use of bullhooks as training tools on elephants in 2014, which helped prompt Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey to phase out elephants from its traveling show in 2015 before the company went out of business in 2017.
“Los Angeles, and now California, has made it very clear how we feel about circuses. Circuses and rodeos are very much alike,” Heather Hamza, a registered nurse and animal rights activist, told the commission. “Circuses take wild animals and make them tame. Rodeos take tame animals and make them wild.”
Hamza said the animals in rodeos are artificially induced to be terrified, and also often suffer grave injuries and death as a result of participating in rodeo events. Among the issues she cited were horses running into walls and killing themselves, bulls breaking their legs and backs, and steers and calves having their necks injured during roping and wresting events. She also said wild cow milking events are “actually like gang rape, it’s disgusting.”
No one representing the rodeo industry or generally in favor of allowing rodeos in the city spoke at the meeting.
Hamza said rodeos are not regularly held in the city, although there are parts of Los Angeles County that host them, including Lancaster, San Dimas and the City of Industry. She added that a recent Professional Bull Riders competition held at Staples Center on Feb. 22-23 that sparked a significant protest could “blow the door open for full-blown rodeos” in Los Angeles and prompted a movement in the animal rights community to have them banned.
The commission’s motion recommends that the City Council take up the issue of banning rodeos in Los Angeles.