Recreation and Entertainment
Many species of animal, companion animals, farm animals, wild animals are used in various forms of entertainment, the most significant in Australia being greyhound racing, horse racing, rodeos, animal circuses and all types of bloodsport. There are many other ways in which animals are used for entertainment, but these are the ones that are largest in scale of animals affected or degree of harm done.
Bloodsports are sports that involve the torture, physical mutilation and/or killing of animals purely for human pleasure. The examples throughout history are shamefully too numerous to list.
Many bloodsports such as bear-baiting, cock-fighting, dog-fighting, bull-fighting, hunting with dogs, and shows which involve the feeding of live animals to carnivores, have been banned in many democratic countries.
Some bloodsports (bull-fighting and other fiesta activities in Spain) persist for ‘traditional’ reasons, while other continue under the radar (dog-fighting in Australia), or by dint of various legislative loopholes (traditional fox hunting in England).
Most countries, including Australia still allow recreational hunting and fishing. Both native and naturalised wild animals are hunted and killed in vast numbers purely for pleasure in Australia.
Most Australian governments permit the hunting of naturalised animals on the assertion that they are ‘invasive’, ignoring the certainty that killing anything other than the entire population of any fast-breeding wild animal species guarantees an increase rather than anything resembling ‘control’ of the population.
Commercial scale animal racing
In any commercial industry involving animals, there is an incentive to save or make money through neglect, abuse and wastage of animals.
Greyhound racing has been shown to involve extreme cruelty to both dogs and other animals used as lures. An independent report on the industry in NSW showed that the greyhound racing industry is deeply cruel and corrupt. Even Premier Baird was initially determined to ban the practice outright.
Sadly, Baird was forced to back down by his colleagues and vested interests, promising that the industry would be cleaned up rather than banned – even though the report had indicated that cleaning it up was no longer an option.
Nevertheless, greyhound racing has been banned in the Australian Capital Territory from July 1, 2018 because of the animal welfare concerns arising from that independent report.
Meanwhile in NSW and other states this cruel sport continues.
The horse racing industry is also fraught with cruelty and corruption. Because of the vast sums of money involved, horses are vulnerable to drugging and injury to assist or hinder their performance.
The wastage rate of horses that are not considered up to par is staggering 70% of racehorses. The treatment of these unwanted horses in similar to that of other unwanted animals, callous and brutal.
There are a legion of other problems with horse racing including use of the whip, and injury during races, especially steeplechase events which require horses to jump diverse obstacles.
Rodeos are shows which involve the tormenting of farm animals and horses for human entertainment.
Rodeo events include calf roping, in which a grown man pulls a panicked baby calf to a sudden stop with a rope, steer wrestling in which participants demonstrate their physical prowess by brutally wrestling the animal to the ground and binding its legs. Both these events cause broken bones, massive bruising and internal haemorrhaging.
Another event involves forcing a horse or steer to buck with a flank strap which irritates the animal while a participant tries to stay on its back.
The problems with the use of animals in circuses include the training methods required for force wild animals to perform activities that are unnatural and frightening, the life-long confinement in small enclosures, sometime of chains, and the length of time spent in travel.
Circuses which use wild animals are now banned in several countries, and jurisdictions within countries, including numerous local governments, and the ACT, in Australia.