The Gummy Bears, a vegan activism group best known for their stickers and decorated road signs enjoining the public to ‘STOP eating animals’, has started a chapter in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
The newly-formed Bay of Plenty Gummy Bears have placed 20 billboards in prominent positions in the Waikato and in Tauranga.
The billboards urge the Government and the public to “ban the Waikato Rodeo”. This refers to the annual event being held this year at Kihikihi Domain on February 15.
“Bay of Plenty Gummy Bears are pleased to support Direct Animal Action, the SPCA, Anti-rodeo Coalition, SAFE and other animal groups opposing this barbaric past-time,” says Ursula Lilley, from Tauranga.
“Four horses died at rodeos last year that we know of, and the Rodeo Association’s own figures show a horrendous rate of injuries. It is time the Government kept its promise to put an end to rodeo and other cruel practices.”
Gummy Bears spokesperson Dr Michael Morris says rodeo is not wholesome family entertainment.
“Quite the contrary. Research has shown that children who witness trusted adults abuse animals are more likely to become abusers themselves.
“Conversely, children who are taught empathy with animals are more likely to grow up with the same traits.”
And while placing of stickers on government signs could be treated as a criminal offence by councils, The Gummy Bears are undeterred by this, says Ursula.
“Most of the people that are doing these actions are absolutely willing to put their money where their mouth is and simply the fact that it’s [placing stickers on road signs] illegal – we’re doing it because it’s moral.”
Ursula says the group is placing the stickers to bring awareness about where people’s food comes from.
“It’s just a visible, immediate connect for people’s brains, I think sometimes it’s a little bit of a surprise.
“Often people actually make a disconnect in their brain between their meat that they’re eating and the fact that animals have been killed so they can eat them.
“It’s about making that connection for people and reminding them that the ham in your sandwich, or the chicken in your burger or whatever [meat] was a living animal with a life of its own and it was killed so that you could eat it.
“It’s to bring that to the surface and to remind people, you’re eating dead animals.”
Ursula says the group is anti-speciesism, which is the notion that all species are equal.
“Speciesism is the construct in the human mind that humans are superior to other animals and we will use and abuse them as we see fit – and as anti-speciesists we reject that idea and extol the opposite values, which are that animals were not put here on this planet for humans to use.”
As a result, Ursula says they will continue placing the stickers on signs.