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One of the world’s oldest sports after boxing is cockfighting, a bloodsport where two roosters are placed in an enclosed pit to fight to the death. On the sidelines, spectators bet on their favored birds and win earnings depending on the outcome of the match.
A number of nations perceive cockfighting as a part of their culture, keeping the tradition up even in the present. However, in some nations, the blood sport and its ties with gambling are prohibited. In this article, we’ll be discussing nations in the world where cockfighting is illegal.
Cockfighting Laws Around the World
This world map shows the regions in the world that have prohibited cockfighting. Territories shaded in blue have a nationwide ban on cockfighting, but there are some designated local traditions exempted in the regions shaded in light blue. Places colored violet have some subnational bans on cockfighting. Nations that are shaded in red are places where cockfighting is widely accepted and legal.
Nations with a Cockfighting Ban
Roosters involved in cockfights endure severe injuries such as punctured lungs, broken bones, pierced eyes, or in worst cases, death. Due to its nature, cockfighting is often perceived as a form of animal cruelty, leading to the ban of the blood sport in numerous regions across the world.
Two distinct styles of weapons are used in cockfights: knife and gaff. A knife or slasher bout features a single, flat blade that varies in length and is attached to one spur of the rooster. On the other hand, gaff matches feature a thin, curved spike attach to both spurs of the cocks.
Since 1867, cockfights have been prohibited in Belgium. In 1929, the country banned all organized fights between animals. Offenders can face six months imprisonment and a fine of EUR 2,000.
Called rinha de galos in Brazil, cockfighting has been banned since 1934 through Brazil’s 1934 Constitution. Based on the recognition of animals in the Constitution, a Brazilian Supreme Court ruling outlawed animal-related activities that involve “animal suffering such as cockfighting and Farra do Boi (the Oxen Festival), a tradition practiced in southern Brazil.
Cockfighting has been illegal in the country since 1922. The Costa Rican government deems cock fighting as cruelty against animals, public disorder, and a risk to public health. According to a poll by the National University, 88% of Costa Ricans dislike cock fights. Since 2017, cockfight events have been punishable with up to two years of prison.
The Supreme Court of India has banned cockfighting however, the activity remains popular, especially on the rural coast of Andhra Pradesh.
In Iraq, cockfighting is illegal but widespread. Spectators come to events to gamble or just for entertainment. Fighting birds can cost up to USD 8,000, with Harati being the most-prized bird.
Cockfighting was introduced to Japan by China in the early 8th century. It rose to popularity in the Kamakura period and Edo period. During the Meiji period in 1873, cockfighting was made illegal.
Organizing or attending cock fight events in the Netherlands is illegal. Offenders can be punished with up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to EUR 20,500.
Cockfighting is an illegal activity in New Zealand. The possession of cockfighting implements and training and breeding of fighting cock is also illegal.
Organized animal fighting, both in public and private, is illegal in Paraguay under Law No. 4840 on Animal Protection and Welfare. Additionally, using creatures in shows, festivals, fights, and other activities that imply cruelty, mistreatment, demise, suffering, or humiliating treatment is punishable between 501 and 1500 minimum daily wages.
Perpetrators may be barred from acquiring or possessing other animals for a period of up to 10 years.
Cockfighting in Poland is prohibited. While there are no specific laws for cock fight events, the law bans animal mistreatment in general. Offenders can face up to 3 years in prison or 5 years if the acts are deemed drastic.
Cockfighting was outright prohibited in England and Wales and in the British Overseas Territories in 1835. By 1895, Scotland also outlawed cockfighting; the activity had been a common activity since the 18th century.
Cockfighting is prohibited in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The activity is considered a felony in 40 states and the District of Columbia, the possession of fighting birds is banned in 39 states and the District of Columbia, being a spectator at a fight is outlawed in 43 states and the District of Columbia, and the possession of sharp instruments to use in fights is prohibited in 15 states.
U.S. Animal Welfare Act and Other Laws Against Animal Fighting
The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act is federal legislation that made transferring cockfighting equipment across state or national borders a criminal activity. Violators can be punished with three years in prison.
In 2008, the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was amended to tighten prohibitions on dog and other animal fighting activities. The law also further increased penalties for violations under the AWA from a misdemeanor to a felony.
It also included a measure to prohibit knowingly selling, buying, transporting, or delivering in interstate or foreign commerce a knife, gaff, or any other sharp equipment attached or designed to be attached to the leg of birds for use in an animal fighting venture.
The 2014 Farm Bill signed into law by President Obama made attending an animal fighting event or bringing a child under the age of 16 to an animal fighting event a federal crime. The cockfighting ban was further extended under the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act and now includes U.S. territories, namely American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Humane Society of the United States works hand in hand with law enforcement, providing their expert opinions to assist prosecutions in state and federal courts.
Cockfighting is a highly controversial activity where two roosters face off against each other in a pit, fighting until one of them gets subdued or killed by the other. In some regions, this activity is seen as a part of national folklore or tradition, enjoying a legal status and embraced by many.
There are also regions where animal protection laws are in place but have exemptions for cockfighting, such as in Honduras where catfights and duck races are prohibited but bullfighting shows and cockfighting are allowed due in part to their ties with Latino culture.
At the same time, there are numerous nations where cockfighting is outright banned, citing the activity as inhumane and cruel to cocks.