Cockfighting—an outright bloody sport in which roosters are locked inside a ring and are forced to fight until one of them either dies or suffers a condition where it cannot continue further, and all of it is done for the “amusement” of onlookers. The history of this sport dates back to 6,000 years. In 1607, an author George Wilson first mentioned the sport of cockfighting in his book The Commendation of Cocks and Cock Fighting.
However, when traveller Magellan set sail for the discovery of the Philippines, he discovered the first traces of modern cockfighting in 1521. The combatants referred to as gamecocks are bred and raised especially in accordance with the need of the sport. They are trained to increase their endurance and stamina to take on fellow fowls. They are trained by ‘breeders’ who are also called “cockers”. Their job is to segregate the animals that have the will to fight from those who are inferior. Many of these birds spend most of their lives bound to a stick or inside a cage.
They are then conditioned to fight through physical activities which include adding weight or attachments to their bodies (legs in particular) for practice fights with other roosters. This whole cruel process is called “Tested with steel”. Often wagers are made on the participants so the owner of the winning rooster gets a reward.
The Sport of Cockfighting
The sport is a bloody one because of the physical damage that cocks inflict on one another. The trauma that these roosters go through is unimaginable as metal spurs are attached to the cock’s natural spurs which inflict more pain. This is turn makes the fight more “watchable” and while not all fights are until death, these birds endure severe physical pain during their whole lives.
In some areas, cockfighting is still supported and practiced while it is regulated by law in some countries meanwhile it is outright legally forbidden in countries like the US and India.
What Happens in the Fight?
Two owners place their roosters in the pits that are usually round or square enclosures. The cocks fight for their lives until one of them dies or injures itself critically. The roosters duel in mid-air as they parry each other in a bid to striker each other with feet and beak. In this way, the tussle goes on until there is a winner and the losing bird is tossed off in a bin nearby the pits.
The Ultimate Torture
Cockfighting is a brutal sport in which animals are tortured and tested to their limits. The breeders seldom pluck the rooster’s feathers and often take off their combs (the flesh over the head and under the beaks) so that other roosters can’t rip it off. In this way, the cocks lose their ability to cool themselves as they have no sweat glands.
Also, many owners hack off the bird’s spurs that are natural protrusion on the cock’s legs so as to attach more lethal weapons on their feet. The wrath does not end there, as police officials have often found performance-enhancing drugs during raids to the cockpits. In this way, animals are tortured, mutilated, killed and drugged only for the entertainment of humans.
Other Crimes related to Cockfighting
There are various other illegal activities that occur in and around the pits. Other than cruelty towards animals, gambling, drug abuse and selling is a common scenario in such areas and hence it leads to severe violence. Often there are children present in the surroundings where this barbaric act takes place which in turn leaves them open to such atrocities.
In India, the Supreme Court has banned cockfighting as per the Prevention of Cruelty to animals act, but it still a popular sight in regions near coastal Andhra Pradesh, as huge betting is involved particularly during the festival of Sankranti.
The Threat of Diseases
According to reports from international health experts in guidance from the World Health Organization the sport of cockfighting risks human exposure to the deadly bird flu virus from birds to humans as breeders are in direct contact with the roosters’ blood and faeces.
According to Washing Post during a cockfight once, a breeder “scrubbed the blood off their birds with bare hands … then … stitched the wounds around their eyes,” and that “sometimes … the injuries are so severe that owners relieve the swelling by sucking out the blood by mouth”
Hence the sport clearly has its fair share of detractors as PETA have continuously called for the sport to be kept in check. It clearly lacks any moral understanding and clearly violates the basic norms of how humans should interact with other species.