This weekend, the global animal liberation network Direct Action Everywhere will protest the 78th Annual Poly Royal Rodeo. Activists will be holding signs and chanting with a megaphone in front of Alex G. Spanos Stadium to encourage students to take a stand against animal cruelty.
“Cows in rodeos are whipped, poked, and otherwise tortured to put them into a state of fear,” local Direct Action Everywhere organizer Zoe Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg is a 15-year-old animal activist and San Luis Obispo local. She has been speaking out against animal abuse since she was 12 years old, making her the youngest animal rights activist to be recognized nationally.
Direct Action Everywhere uses creative protest to challenge the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation and entertainment. As their local organizer, Rosenberg has brought together the Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo community to fight for animal rights.
Rosenberg’s specific focus on helping abused and abandoned farm animals is what brings her attention to the physical and psychological trauma that rodeo livestock experiences. In a 2016 study funded by the Australian Professional Rodeo Association, researchers discovered that animals, and especially calves, experience an immense amount of stress during a rodeo act. An experienced calf shows signs of flight and stressed behavior when in visual range of a potential rider, revealing the progressive trauma through multiple events.
Alumnus and rodeo coach Ben Londo revels in his team’s achievement of putting on the largest collegiate rodeo in the nation this past year. Despite the rodeo team partnering with Jack’s Helping Hand, a program that provides assistance to children with cancer and special needs, the Poly Royal Rodeo has been protested for years.
University spokesperson Matt Lazier said animals used for the rodeo are regularly cared for.
“Specifically regarding animals used by Cal Poly’s Rodeo Program and during its annual Poly Royal Rodeo, our animal care policies and procedures include daily veterinarian check-ups of each animal, including a full spectrum of proactive animal welfare and care procedures. Each animal involved in rodeo events is medically checked prior to and immediately after each event,” Lazier said.
The Cal Poly Rodeo Team declined to comment.
The protest will be held April 13 at 7 p.m. and April 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Alex G. Spanos stadium and is open to all students and community members.
“The Poly Royal Rodeo is animal abuse,” Rosenberg said.