Table of Contents
Cockfighting is a sport that is a common passion in many countries in Latin America. This bloodsport involves two cocks placed in a pit to fight. Usually, the fight ends with one of the roosters being critically injured or, in most cases, leading to death.
Cock fighting reached Peru during the Spanish colonization. Read on further to know how cock fighting is perceived in Peru.
Is Cockfighting Legal in Peru?
Cockfighting is legal and regulated by the government in Peru. According to the Encyclopedia of Latino Culture, Peru has “probably the longest historical tradition with cockfighting in Latin America.” The practice possibly dates back to the Spanish colonization of Peru in the 16th century.
Most cock fighting arenas in the country are located in the capital city, Lima. Cock fight events are held anytime possible but are particularly celebrated during Fiestas Patrias or Peru’s Independence Day.
Recently, campaigns have been launched to prohibit cockfights in the entire country, citing the blood sport as a form of animal cruelty due to the physical trauma that cocks inflict on each other. Despite campaigns, cockfight advocates list cultural relevance as a reason to continue cockfighting and therefore is allowed in the country.
What Is Cockfighting in Peru?
Cockfighting is one of the most popular activities in Peru, alongside bullfighting. The country has an exclusive fighting cock breed that is naturally very territorial and incredibly aggressive. Roosters are called gallos de pelea.
There are two types of cock fights: navaja and pico or piquero. Navaja fights involve a sharp blade attached to the rooster. On the other hand, piquero fights use cockfighting equipment that is reduced in sharpness and imitates the bird’s natural spur.
Cockfight events are usually advertised Most towns and cities have at least one cockfighting arena. Often referred to as coliseo de gallos, a cockfighting arena is often well-conceived but the location is not dark or dingy. Most of the arena floor is covered with the names of sponsors. The fighting ground itself is circular and uses sand.
Rooster owners, called careadores, enter the arena with carrying cases where they house their birds in. Arenas have wooden and concrete cages with each cell numbered. Sometimes, arenas also have in-house roosters.
Upon arrival, cockfight officials weigh each bird to determine the match-ups. Birds of equal weight are pitted against each other. Before the fighting commences, an announcer calls out the names of all involved. As for spectators, the crowd is usually thin during the first and second fights but will grow in number by the third fight or in later rounds.
At the beginning of each match, the careadores enter the pit with their game chickens held gently between two hands. A judge inspects the spurs for the final time before allowing the careadores to the center of the arena. Once the judge releases his hand, both roosters are also released into the pit.
Bets also take place in Peruvian cockfights. Spectators shout out the color of the rooster they’re betting on, along with the amount of money they’re waging. It’s common to hear shouts of “El Negro” or “Pelo Rojo” which means black feather or red feather, respectively, to refer to the birds in the pit.
Usually, an overall champion in the cockfight events gets the top money prize. Gallos that are able to kill or incapacitate their opponent within 40 seconds are rewarded as well.
Fighting Cocks in Peru
The Peruvian fighting cock was developed by Don Humberto Gregorio Pedraglio Oddone. Development of the Peruvian chicken began in the late 1930s until breeding them was perfected in the early 1970s. Peruvian gamefowls are extremely popular with cock fighters in Asia, particularly in the Philippines. Most of them come in the brown-red variety and may weigh around 4 to 9 kilos.
When breeding roosters, the gameness, speed, power, cut, aggressiveness, and endurance are kept in mind. The cocks can sometimes attack their breeders, especially if not handled well. Their aggressiveness makes them a favorite for crossbreeding with American gamefowl breeds.
Cockfighting Laws in Peru
There are no laws in Peru that ban cockfighting or bullfighting, however, there is a law to protect animals. Called the Animal Protection and Well-being Law, the measure ensures the lives and health of both domestic and wild animals in captivity. This law exempts spectacles that are a part of the culture, such as bullfighting and cockfights.
Challenge Against Peru’s Animal Protection Laws
In 2018, animal rights activists brought a petition that called for the Constitutional Court to declare a ban on all “cruel shows using animals,” including cockfighting and bullfighting. The Supreme Court took the case into consideration. A week before the verdict was to be passed, thousands of people marched the streets of Lima to support the animal fighting practices.
A common defense that allows fights to continue is that the livelihood of 400,000 people depends on breeding animals. A cock fighter and breeder defended cockfights and bullfight events, saying, “It’s not animal mistreatment. Bulls are being created for this and lives thanks to bullfighting.”
In 2020, the Court ruled that it could not declare cockfights and bullfights unconstitutional. Both are considered “cultural shows” and hence will not be banned. Only three out of five magistrates showed their support for the case, falling short of the number of votes required to outlaw cock and bullfights in the country.
Cockfighting is illegal in many countries around the world. However, in Peru, cock fighting is widely accepted. Men mostly make up the crowd in cockfights but women and children are also welcome. In 2018, activists called for cock and bullfighting to be banned but Peru’s Constitutional Court declared that both popular activities are part of the culture and are therefore allowed.
Aside from Peru, cockfighting is also legal in select countries around the world.