What’s wrong with animals in entertainment?
The use of animals in entertainment, such as circuses, racing, petting zoos and livestock competitions, speaks to an outdated attitude towards sentient beings. By allowing these events, many of which have already been banned in other jurisdictions, the local government is endorsing the exploitation and subjugation of non-human animals.
The use of “heritage” or “tradition” is not an acceptable excuse for these cruel and unnecessary practices. We call on the local government to end their financial support of these events, and to bring in legislation to prevent them occurring in the ACT
Petting zoos takes infant animals from their mothers well before they are weaned. Often these enclosures have insufficient shade, water and feed. These animals are excessively handled from a young age resulting in learned helplessness— a psychological phenomenon where animals (and humans!) are continually unable to engage in neither fight nor flight, and so in turn respond by shutting down psychologically as a protective mechanism.
Most of these animals will end up in the slaughterhouse when they are no longer cute, or they are continuously bred to produce new babies for display. People who enjoy petting zoos would be horrified to know their actions are contributing to animal harm.
An extension of the petting zoo, young piglets are forced to race each other for food rewards. They are still far too young to be away from their mothers, and often they will be underfed to encourage them to race.
These animals are transported from all over the region, kept in confinement for the day and in all likelihood, will be sent to slaughter shortly or impregnated for breeding and milking. They also perpetuate the idea that farming is a wholesome family pursuit with glossy, happy animals when nothing could be further from the truth.
Domestic animal shows, breeding, equestrian and dog sports:
The amendments to the animal welfare act already include a number of reforms that exclude the use of dogs in hunting sports and the restriction on breeding, however there is not yet sufficient action on dog shows themselves nor on the continued breeding of animals for entertainment in this industry. Domestic animal shows rely upon breeding of animals according to aesthetic standards which has resulted in substantial deformities becoming rampant amongst "purebreds". In addition, these show involve frequent transport and confinement of animals. Further, many sports, even where they do not involve the use of live bait, can result in serious harm and even death in the animal participants. Given the overflow of domestic animals in the care of foster groups, the RPSCA and pounds in the surrounding region, continued breeding of "designer" animals for show or for purchase is unconscionable.
Yard dog trials:
These events involve a working dog herding sheep through a course, a dog completing an obstacle course or scaling a high podium. Sheep may be herded multiple times by different dogs and being prey animals, are subject to substantial stress.These events are frequently held in the warmer months increasing risk of heat stress for not only the sheep, but also the dogs themselves.
Even though the ACT has banned the use of exotic animals in circuses, the use of domesticated animals such as dogs and horses is still permitted. These animals are constantly on the move between towns, often with exceedingly long transport times. They are often kept in cages or tethered by short ropes between performances and training.
The ACT has banned greyhound racing on animal cruelty grounds, however horse racing suffers from the same cruelty concerns, and inherent risk of injury to the animals exploited for gambling purposes.
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