MEDIA RELEASE: VIDEO: Activists Protest Tucson Rodeo Animal Cruelty

MEDIA RELEASE: VIDEO: Activists Protest Tucson Rodeo Animal Cruelty

TUCSON, Ariz. (Feb. 21, 2024)In Defense of Animals and Tucson-based Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom (SPEAK) protested animal cruelty at the Tucson Rodeo on its opening day, Saturday, Feb. 17 and will be there again to protest on finals day, Sunday, Feb. 25. Activists gathered in front of the arena at the Tucson Rodeo grounds with signs and a megaphone to oppose this abusive spectacle and raise awareness about the use of electric shocks on animals, which officials have been urged to ban.



Rodeo is inherently cruel, traumatizing and injuring animals for entertainment. Docile animals are provoked into action through pain, often inflicted using spurs, straps, and electroshock devices. Animals used in the events are exempted from Animal Welfare Act protections.

For more than a decade, SPEAK and Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) have obtained undercover videos revealing routine shocking of animals at Tucson Rodeo. Hot-Shot electric shock devices are used to inflict pain on animals with 5,000-6,000-volts of electricity. Horses and bulls are regularly and intentionally given painful electric shocks as the chute opens to make them run and buck in fear. 

Investigators have documented animals abused with Hot-Shots at the Tucson Rodeo every time they went to the arena.

Hot-Shot does not condone the use of its electric prod on horses, and does not recommend any use in rodeos. “Any use for entertainment purposes is not something we support or condone.”

Animal handlers at Tucson Rodeo attempt to hide devices and abuse behind fences and clothing. When workers are caught shocking animals, Tucson Rodeo claims only to shock “problem animals,” or in “special circumstances,” despite evidence of routine abuse.

Attempts to conceal and downplay the abuse proves the rodeo is aware its animal mistreatment is unacceptable to the public.

Many rodeos have outlawed the use of electric shock devices on animals, including the world’s largest rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days. This abusive practice has nothing to do with tradition, as rodeos existed long before shock prods were invented.

Nearly 16,000 people have signed In Defense of Animals’ letter urging Mayor Regina Romero and the Tucson City Council to ban electric shock devices.

“Tucson Rodeo shocks horses and bulls for entertainment,” said Brittany Michelson, Campaign Specialist for Captive Animals at In Defense of Animals. “Shocks and straps force animals to flee and buck in fear which often causes injuries or death. Many rodeos have taken public opinion on board and banned electroshock devices. Mayor Romero and Tucson City Council, please don’t allow this cruelty to continue on your watch. Thousands of In Defense of Animals supporters are asking you to ban electric shock devices at Tucson Rodeo, as a minimum step to tackling animal cruelty.”

“With the rodeo in its 99th year, will it really take our community a full century to finally realize that there's no such thing as a rodeo without animal cruelty? The real concern is not how many people are admitted to the event, but rather how many people in the arena admit to the animal abuse that they witness,” said SPEAK president Gary Vella.

Arizonans demonstrating against animal abuse at the Tucson Rodeo in 2022. Photo: In Defense of Animals. Right: A frightened, roped calf. Photo:

Members of the public are encouraged to boycott the Tucson Rodeo and take action:



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Images and videos:


Tucson Rodeo 2019 - roped, injured bull who can't stand up; footage by

Tucson Rodeo 2019 - downed bull carted out of the arena; footage by

Tucson Rodeo manager falsely claims no animal injuries



In Defense of Animals, Brittany Michelson,, 928-420-0727
SPEAK, Gary Vella, 520-981-7416 (no text)

In Defense of Animals is an international animal rescue and protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of defending animals, the environment, and their guardians through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, rural Mississippi and California.

Tucson-based SPEAK (Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom) is proud to be Arizona's first animal rights organization. The organization addresses animal protection issues on every level: local, statewide, regional, national, and international. Speak’s mission to create a more cruelty-free world for animals involves a twofold approach: educational efforts coupled with active resistance to any form of animal abuse.





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