In a desperate attempt to boost their profits, the casinos of Atlantic City colluded to launch the Atlantic City Boardwalk Rodeo. The three-day rodeo started appropriately enough on April 1st -- April Fool's Day. It included such dangerous and cruel events as bareback horse riding, tie-down roping, saddle bronc riding, team roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, and bull riding. About 50 tiny cattle, 30 bulls, and 40 horses were brought in to be exploited in the name of making a few bucks.
The event was operated by John Barnes of Barnes PRCA Rodeo. The good people at SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) have been keeping an eye on Mr. Barnes, and have video of him repeatedly administering 5,000 volt electrical shocks to a caged bull to make the poor animal act wild and mean. And now he's running the Atlantic City rodeo. Barnes has high hopes for his latest venture: "This is going to become an annual event that people are going to make vacations for. It's going to get to the point where people are going to have to buy tickets in advance because it will be sold out."
Sadly, over 17,000 turned out to see animals wrestled, roped, slammed to the ground, and otherwise abused. The casino mavens are no doubt thrilled and are salivating at the thought of making even more money in the years to come. Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo T. Langford informed representatives from SHARK that he fully supported the rodeo and wanted it to come back next year. He had no interest in viewing footage of animal abuse at the rodeo.
It doesn't have to be this way. While thousands of people apparently have no problem paying to see wannabe cowpokes manhandle animals, there are also thousands of us who see rodeos for what they are: exercises in cruelty. We must take a stand and tell Mayor Langford, members of the Atlantic City Visitors Authority, and the rodeo's corporate sponsors that the rodeo has no place in Atlantic City, and as tourist we would prefer to spend our dollars in cities that don't endorse animal cruelty.
Rodeos are exercises in animal cruelty. Baby cows, usually just three or four months old, are roped so violently they becomes airborne before slamming into the ground. This process can break the calf's neck, back or legs. Horses and bulls are subjected to repeated electric shock to force them to act more aggressively. Countless animals end up injured or killed. No wonder the Humane Society of the United States officially "opposes rodeos as they are commonly organized, since they typically cause torment and stress to animals; expose them to pain, injury, or even death; and encourage an insensitivity to and acceptance of the inhumane treatment of animals in the name of sport."
Please do not let this event continue. While it is no doubt hoped that the rodeo will bring revenue to Atlantic City, I could not in good conscience spend my tourist dollars in a city that condones and promotes animal cruelty. Let this year's Atlantic City rodeo be the last.