07/14/2012 05:11 EDT | Updated 09/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Protest Groups Call For End To Calgary Stampede Rodeo

Animal activists say ticket buyers are part of the problem when it comes to the cruel treatment of animals at the Calgary Stampede.

Protester groups were out both Friday night and Saturday afternoon to show their opposition to rodeo and chuckwagon events at the Stampede.

On Thursday night, three horses died after a chuckwagon crash. A necropsy Friday determined that the right lead horse, which collapsed, pulling down three other horses and an outrider, had an aneurysm.

About a dozen people were at the Victoria Park LRT station Saturday afternoon chanting “Stampede okay, rodeo no.”

The group is calling for an all out ban on the rodeo and the chuckwagon events and had cardboard gravestones set up for every year that animals have died at the Calgary Stampede with the death count for that year

Animal activist Jeremy Thomas said the rodeo isn’t about tradition. Thomas was part of a group set up outside the Stampede grounds Friday night.

“We can celebrate our western heritage without celebrating cruelty to animals.”

Thomas is calling on Calgarians to boycott the Stampede until the chucks and the rodeo are abolished.

He says anyone buying a ticket is allowing animals to be injured and killed for their entertainment.

But despite Thursday’s horse deaths, neither group is garnering a lot of support.

On Friday the activists faced some boos and hostility.

Stampede goers Stephanie Lawrence and Joe Wansink are in support of the events.

“I think definitely we should keep it — it’s part of Stampede,” said Lawrence.

“It's an unfortunate accident. It’s part of the sport,” Wansink added.

“It's an historical event in many ways.”

At Victoria Park on Saturday, many passersby stopped to voice their support of the rodeo.

Similar protests against the Calgary rodeo and chuckwagon races happens every year, but Stampede officials have never given any indication that they’d even consider stopping either of the events.

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