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  • Mervin Low

Animal Abuse in Traditional Festivals

On July 10, Animal Rights Center, a non-profit organization based in Tokyo, took a brave stand against animal cruelty by submitting a criminal complaint with the prefectural police. The complaint named three members of the event committee, including the chairman, for alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act at the Itoman Harley festivities' "Ahiratuea" (duck catching competition). Participants in the event release live ducks into the water in an attempt to catch them, but the consequences for these helpless birds are tragic. The competition has resulted in countless incidences of ducks being injured or tragically dying. While the prefectural police investigate, the event highlights the urgent need to combat the abuse of animals in traditional festivals.



Animal abuse is a concerning issue that occurs during various traditional festivals around the world. These events involve the brutal and inhumane death or sacrificing of animals, torturing them through beatings and burnings, or forcing them into perilous performances and fights. These practices are not only cruel to animals, but also needless. There are numerous methods to celebrate traditions without harming animals. Here are some examples of festivals that have been modified to avoid the exploitation of animals or have found an alternate method to celebrate.


The Encierro de Bola, held in Mataelpino, Spain, offers a unique and modified version of the traditional running of the bulls. In this event, participants eagerly pursue a giant resin ball, replacing the live bull that is typically chased. Recognized as a safer and more compassionate alternative, the festival garners significant attention, drawing thousands of people each year. By embracing this humane approach, the Encierro de Bola sets a commendable example of celebrating cultural traditions while prioritizing the welfare and safety of both humans and animals.


The Cots Kaal Pato festival is a traditional festival that is held in the town of Citilcum, Mexico. The festival used to involve hanging live ducks from a scaffold and then beating them to death. This practice was seen as a way to bring good luck to the town. However, in 2016, the festival was reformed and now the ducks are released unharmed. The reform of the Cots Kaal Pato festival was a result of pressure from animal rights groups. These groups argued that the old festival was cruel and unnecessary. They also pointed out that the festival was not actually linked to any ancient Mayan tradition.


The reform of these festivals can be seen as a positive step. It shows that people are becoming more aware of the issue of animal cruelty. It also shows that it is possible to change traditional festivals to make them more humane. With education and awareness, we can create a world where all festivals are celebrations of life, not death.


Helpful resources:

Animals Asia: https://www.animalsasia.org/

Humane Society International: https://www.humanesociety.org/

PETA: https://www.peta.org/


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