Traditionally, Canada’s annual Royal Agricultural Winter Fair opens with a bang. This year marks its 90th anniversary as the largest agricultural festival in the world, so the pressure to impress was on. But over 5,000 Care2 members were not so blindsided by the fair’s fruits and veggies to miss calling out its blatant disregard for the welfare of six bulls.
Officials planned to force the 2,000-pound animals to participate in a “Running of the Bulls” spectacle for the opening ceremony on October 30th. They decided that the bulls would parade down the financial district, surrounded on either side by handlers on horseback acting as buffers against the crowd, but advertised it as just as intense as the Spanish tradition its name suggests. As a follow-up, crowds would have been able to flock to the rodeo to see the bulls put through their paces yet again.
Luckily, those who opposed the ceremony made enough noise to have the events identified as city bylaw violations, so the bulls received a last minute reprieve.
The fair’s aims are arguably noble- through a series of events, activities and contests, it shows how agriculture links rural and urban communities alike. But their exploitation of animals has been a sore point for animal rights activists who note that large crowds put bulls under considerable stress. This is definitely not the first time we’ve seen bulls’ comfort and safety overlooked for the sake of entertainment, ritual or spectacle, but the swiftness in shutting this cruel event down is encouraging.
A fair meant to educate Canadians about the world of agriculture could easily have highlighted the striking amount of ignorance that exists concerning a rural animal’s best interests. Many thanks to all the Care2 members who helped turn this misstep into an educational moment for everyone attending the fair – as it ought to be.