UNESCO to recognize cruelty to horses and bulls as “cultural heritage”

Humane Society International criticizes decision by UN body to list inhumane charrerias as intangible world heritage

Humane Society International

  • Charrería is extremely stressful and often results in severe injuries to the animals involved. HSI

The cruel Mexican equestrian practice “charrería” has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a move criticized by Humane Society International.

In Mexico, charrería is a practice that consists of tailing, roping and riding horses and bulls, and can include horse and bull tripping. Charrería is extremely stressful and often results in severe injuries to the animals involved. This cruel event which many Mexicans oppose could get a promotional and even financial boost by the listing.

Antón Aguilar, executive director of HSI/Mexico said: “We are deeply disappointed that mistreatment of horses and bulls is to receive UNESCO’s stamp of support and approval. Animals are sentient beings who are capable of suffering and feeling pain and anguish. We strongly believe violence against animals for entertainment purposes to be contrary to UNESCO’s peace mission.”

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HSI is also concerned that UNESCO made this determination over strong opposition from national and international communities. Such an inscription, we fear, will likely facilitate attempts to list other inhumane spectacles such as bullfighting and animal fiestas as Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO.


  • Upon Mexico’s nomination, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage inscribed charrerías under the UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Representative List.
  • Charrería is an equestrian practice in Mexico that consists in “roping wild mares, tailing wild bulls, bull riding, team bull roping, wild mare riding, wild mare roping on foot, and wild mare roping from horseback leaping to wild mare riding.”
  • According to an online poll by Parametria, 86 percent of Mexicans oppose using animals for entertainment purposes, and 95 percent think people that hurt animals should be penalized.

Media contact:
Raul Arce-Contreras, +1 301.721.6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org

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