Activists joined with the Anti-Speciesist Action Collective and Animal Liberation ACT to protest the animal exploitation occuring at the Canberra show. With roots in agricultural and pastoral “tradition” the show is yet to shed this legacy of outdated and cruel animal exhibits and competitions.
The dog show saw dogs kept in cages for much of the day, awaiting the brief grooming and display time. The “livestock” display saw cows, bulls and calves kept in barns, tethered so tightly (often by the septum) that they could not rid themselves of the flies infesting their eyes and nostrils. Their distressed sounds carried across the entire area as they expressed their discomfort, awaiting their turn in the ring. Those on display were led by the nostrils with those not fully complying subject to rough pulling and shoving. A small flock of sheep were also confined, but rather than the shaded barns many of the cows thankfully had access to, they were in the hot sun with no source of water.
The sheepdog trials saw the same flock of sheep exposed to the hot sun and numerous dogs rounding them up over the course of the day. They were fearful and often trapped in close confines with the sheepdogs, resulting in them attempting to jump over each other and the barriers to escape. One sheep made an attempt to jump the high back fence of the arena but was unsuccessful.
The worst through was the petting zoo. Held in a hot and stagnant shed, these animals were confined to small pens with no means of escaping the constant noise of the crows. Young calves separated from their mother huddled against the back wall. The sheep in the pen panted and trembled, their water troughs empty. Despite requests for these to be refilled, staff did not take action and onlookers expressed concern at the clear distress of these unfortunate animals.
The chickens and ducks on display were confined to small cages, with the ducks backing themselves against the back corners to escape the constant barrage of onlookers. Guinea pigs and rabbits were kept in even smaller cages, with barely enough space to turn around.
Many of the animals already had ear tags, including the piglets used for the “pig racing” attraction. They will shortly become part of the meat industry and those who cooed and fawned over them likely purchasing their dismembered corpses without a second thought.
Outside, dedicated activists protested and handed out informative pamphlets about the reality of animals used in country shows. Individuals taking these pamphlets were encouraged to enjoy the show and to avoid the animals being exploited in the name of “tradition”.