Canadian-born actress and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson has renewed her call for an end to chuckwagon races.
Anderson has sent a letter to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his agriculture minister urging them to stop the popular rodeo event.
“After recently moving back to my beautiful native Canada, my heart sank as I read about six horses who died in this year’s chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede. I urge you to direct the Stampede to ban these deadly races,” writes Anderson.
“Please use your authority to end chuckwagon racing before more horses die.”
The races are a nightly spectacle during the Stampede. Crowds watch as horse-drawn wagons accompanied by outriders thunder around a dirt track.
Anderson is an honorary director with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA. About 20 of the group’s members gathered in front of the Alberta legislature last week to call for an end to the sport.
More than 70 horses have died in the event since 1986.
Anderson, best known as one of the swimsuit-clad lifegaurds in “Baywatch” in the 1990s and as a model for Playboy, wrote a similar letter to another Alberta premier in 2012. She asked Alison Redford to use her influence to persuade Stampede organizers to “end these spectacles.”
Anderson said in that letter that she was ashamed the races were allowed to continue even as horses died.
The Calgary Stampede has said it will thoroughly review chuckwagon safety after the fatalities this year — the deadliest in nearly a decade.
A rep for the Stampede gave the following statement to ET Canada on Thursday: “Our values toward the participation of animals in the Stampede’s sport and entertainment events remains strong. The Stampede’s commitment to the safety of animals and the conditions of their participation in our events is ingrained in our values. As an industry leader in animal care, this year’s events are especially upsetting for us given the extensive work we have undertaken in regards to safety. We have a zero tolerance policy for preventable accidents and injuries, and look to continual improvement and evolution in regards to safety on our track. In light of this, we have committed to a thorough investigation into the incidents and chuckwagon safety in general.”
The Stampede tightened safety rules for the races in recent years, but Anderson says in her latest letter that it obviously wasn’t enough.
“More than a dozen horses have died since then, because these races are inherently cruel and dangerous,” Anderson writes.
“This cruelty and indifference do not represent the Canada I know and love.”
The Agriculture Department said last week that it is confident the Stampede’s review of the latest horse deaths will address how best to bring in measures to improve safety and animal care.