Canadians Say Animals Are Not For Our Entertainment
As part of their 2019 championship festivities, the Canadian Football League (CFL) organized a rodeo. The decision was controversial. Already that year, six horses had died during chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede, one of the biggest rodeos in North America. From the perspective of animal advocates, the CFL was choosing to make a spectacle of the injury and death of animals – a gladiatorial event inappropriate for a football cup.
Such concerns aren’t restricted to a narrow subset of the population. Almost 60% of Canadians are opposed to the use of animals in rodeos, and around half of Canadians surveyed disagreed with the CFL decision to incorporate one into the football festivities.
The controversy generated by the CFL’s decision is a focal point for the broader debate surrounding the ethics of how we treat nonhuman animals. This article presents the results of an online survey of 1,000 Canadians that explored attitudes towards the use of animals for entertainment, food, and fashion.
In addition to rodeos, zoos, aquaria, and trophy hunting fall into the category of animal use for entertainment. In all cases, the majority of Canadians are against these practices, although there are some regional differences. Opinion is more divided over keeping animals in zoos and aquaria, with 52% of Canadians saying they oppose them (rising to 56% among younger demographics). In contrast, as much as 85% of Canadians are opposed to trophy hunting.
While trophy hunting is hugely controversial, hunting animals for their meat is generally supported. Almost two-thirds of Canadians favor the practice. This fits into a broader pattern revealed by the survey: that using animals for entertainment is problematic, but using them for food is acceptable. 75% of Canadians believe there is nothing wrong with eating animals, compared to just under 20% who view it unfavorably. Encouragingly, however, 60% of Canadians would eat a plant-based burger. A look at the demographics reveals that younger people are especially likely to express concern over the ethics of eating animals and a willingness to try out alternatives.
As with the use of animals for entertainment, Canadians look askance at the use animals for fashion. Three-quarters of survey respondents were against killing animals for their fur. This figure rises to 83% among women – almost as high as the proportion of Canadians who oppose trophy hunting.
Along with offering an insight into attitudes towards animals, this article underscores the broader implications of concern for animal welfare. The author notes that the Canadian Football League has been struggling to engage the public in Atlantic Canada, particularly younger demographics. The disparity between public opinion and the CFL’s decision to organize a rodeo won’t have helped their outreach efforts.
This survey, which reveals particular concern for animal welfare among young people, emphasizes that companies need to take these issues seriously if they wish to remain competitive. As animal advocates, we need to make our voices heard, and show the industry that nonhuman animals must not be considered expendable.