Animal rights student activists have their sights set on the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.
Although rodeo officials said ticket sales did not seem to be affected by this weekend’s protests, TCU student protesters said their goal is for rodeo patrons to think twice about buying a ticket next year.
Veronika Terrian, senior history major and coordinator of TCU People for Animal Well-Being, protested with five to 10 others outside the rodeo gates holding up signs that read, “No one likes an 8-second ride” and “Real sports require willing participants.” Terrian and others passed out leaflets to educate the public on some aspects of the rodeo.
James Russell, a sophomore anthropology and religion major, said most people are not aware intense prodding, flank straps and stun guns are used to provoke the animals into performing.
“All we want to do is have them go in there and see the rodeo in a different way,” said Edita Birnkrant, a representative from Friends of Animals. “We want them to say, ‘hey, I never thought about it like this before, but maybe this is wrong.'”
Rodeo officials said they will not take any actions to intimidate people from their right to protest.
“They were able to express their opinions and we were able to have a really good rodeo,” said Matt Brockman, the executive assistant at the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show.
Brockman said the protesters’ agenda is not necessarily just rodeo.
“Their agenda is to bring the livestock industry to a screeching halt and turn American society into a society of vegetarians and vegans,” Brockman said. “Animals are athletes just like the cowboys and cowgirls who raise them and, as performers, they are treated accordingly.”
The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association identifies more than 60 rules that address animal welfare issues. Brockman said the Southwestern Exposition is PRCA sanctioned and adheres to those guidelines.
Brockman said though he has seen livestock die on rodeo grounds, rodeo officials take every possible precaution to protect the livestock. A veterinarian is on the grounds at all times, he said.
“Our job is to put rules in place, enforce them and continue to look for new and better measures to keep animal welfare constantly at the forefront,” Brockman said.
Student protesters said their overall goal is to make people question what is going on.
The protesters involved with TCU Peace Action and TCU People for Animal Well-Being said they will continue weekend protests until the rodeo ends Feb. 3.