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Prince Harry was spotted at a popular rodeo in Texas last weekend, raising eyebrows over animal cruelty issues. The Duke of Sussex’s partner – actress and animal rights activist Meghan Markle – was not present.
Prince Harry, who now lives in Montecito, Calif., was pictured at the Stockyards Championship Rodeo in Fort Worth on Saturday March 5.
It’s the only year-round rodeo in the world, according to its website.
Locals took to social media to share their excitement over her appearance, with two now-deleted Instagram posts that briefly went viral.
Melton Bull Co, an organization that breeds and trains competition bulls, shared an image of Prince Harry at the event.
“Prince Harry hanging out at the rodeo this week… We get a lot of rodeo royalties but he’s the first prince I see. He said he was going to get into the bullfight but the airline lost his bag of rigging,” the company wrote in the now-deleted post.
What happens at rodeos?
The rodeo was held at the Cowtown Coliseum. The site, built in 1908, is said to have housed the first ever indoor rodeo.
According to its website, Cowtown hosts two categories at its rodeos. Timed events consist of tie-downs, breakaways, team ropes, and barrel racing. The raw action category, on the other hand, includes bull riding, bronc riding, bareback, and ranch saddle bronc riding.
The rodeo also offers competitions for children. In such events, a calf or sheep is released with a ribbon tied to its tail. The first child to grab the ribbon wins a prize and parents must sign a waiver for their children to participate.
The rodeo usually lasts two hours. And since its opening, the arena has seen more than 90,000 bulls and 150,000 horses pass. He also handed out $45 million in prize money.
Are rodeos dangerous for animals?
As of this writing, the Cowtown Coliseum website, including its FAQ page, does not address animal welfare issues or comment on the experiences of its non-human attendees.
But rodeos in general have come under fire repeatedly, particularly in recent years, for their treatment of animals.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is a non-profit association specializing in animal rights. He writes about the risks associated with rodeos on his website.
“Rodeos may be popular, but more and more Americans are realizing how cruel these events are to the animals forced to participate. Horses, bulls, oxen and calves suffer from ribs, broken backs and legs, torn tails, punctured lungs, damaged internal organs, torn tendons, torn ligaments, broken necks and excruciating deaths,” says ALDF.
Additionally, riders and trainers use “cruel tools” on animals in the industry. These include electric prods, metal spurs and slashing straps, which can lead to open wounds and burns.
And injuries don’t just happen during shows; behind-the-scenes training sessions can be just as harmful, suggests ALDF.
In addition, the transport of bulls and horses for the events also poses problems. This is mainly due to overcrowding and policies that neglect to adequately address animal welfare. The charity points out that, in accordance with the guidelines of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, animals can be confined for up to 24 hours without food or water during transport.
Prince Harry’s presence at the rodeo surprised some animal advocates.
“It is hugely disappointing that Prince Harry made the wrong decision to attend a rodeo. A rude old treat for bored cowboys who see animals as nothing more than things,” a spokesperson said. from PETA to shimmer. “At these events, the participants…terrorize and provoke the animals who try to flee for their lives…Anyone who cares about animals should avoid these shows of suffering.
Chris DeRose, founder and president of the nonprofit Last Chance for Animals, echoed those sentiments.
“Prince Harry’s support of the rodeo is deeply disappointing. Given the Duchess’ activism on animal rights issues, it is inconceivable that the prince would find the abuses perpetrated by the rodeo entertaining,” DeRose commented. .
“We encourage Prince Harry to learn more about the tools of terror used in bull riding. His ignorance and naivety only undermines the Duchess’ immense legacy and her work to end cruelty to animals,” he continued. DeRose added that bull riding events “glorify animal abuse because they masquerade as family entertainment.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Indeed, Markle has devoted much of her time to animal rights causes. The Duchess of Sussex is the patron of London-based animal welfare organization Mayhew. Last year she penned an open letter thanking “all the animal lovers” in town who had shown their support for the charity.
“Your help means that, despite the hardships, Mayhew has been able to continue to provide vital support to cats and dogs, and the communities around them,” Markle wrote.
Markle and Prince Harry saved two dogs themselves: Guy and Pula. Pets are said to have helped Markle through various “personal trials and tribulations”.
The couple also rescued chickens from a factory farm, while Markle invested in vegan dairy start-up Clevr Blends.
In 2020, it was reported that Prince Harry had stopped attending royal family hunts, which have been a tradition for decades. Rumor has it that the prince even sold his shotguns, pocketing around £50,000 ($62,000) for them.