Practical Issues > Entertainment > Rodeo - Index
California State Fair Rodeo

July, 2006

The crowd of rodeo fans watched in dismay as the bull writhed in the dirt. The half-ton animal had broken his back chasing see-sawing cowboys during an event called "Cowboy Teeter-Totter."

"He was spitting stuff out of his mouth, rolling around, trying to get his legs to move," recalled Miles Young of Pleasant Hill, a retired state fish and game warden who attended the California State Fair that day in 2004. "The crowd saw the whole thing and went dead silent."

The announcer, Young recalled, continued as if everything was okay, saying over the loudspeaker that sometimes bulls pull a muscle.

But the bull wasn't OK. His back was broken. The bull was hauled off in a rodeo company ambulance. He was shot dead the next day at a ranch near Marysville.

Animal rights leaders say the case highlights the danger animals face at rodeos.

As the 153rd California State Fair gets ready to open next month at CalExpo, animal groups are pushing for an official ban of events such as elephant rides and the "Cowboy Teeter-Totter," which they say put animals at an unreasonable risk.

"Some of these practices are simply abusive," said Eric Mills of Action for Animals, an Oakland-based animal rights group that has spearheaded rodeo reform legislation in recent years. "This is not the CalExpo state fair this is the California State Fair -- you're supposed to be representing the citizens here. Citizens don't want to see animals harmed."

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