Despite the crackdown by authorities and while illegal, cockfighting is still a common fixture in Costa Rica. and now attracting cockers from other parts of the continent, who travel to Costa Rica to participate in these clandestine events.
According to the Servicio Nacional de Salud Animal (SENASA) – National Antmal Health Service – so far this year, they have realized two important raids on two underground events operating in the Central Valley (San José greater area).
SENASA authorities say they were able to determine that cocks being brought in from places like Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and other Central American countries.
In the raids, authorities were able to seize 179 fighting cocks, all presumed smuggled into the country. According to Allan Sánchez, Director Regional de San José, the health conditions of the animals and the spread of diseases through the cocks is a constant concern.
“In the San Jeronimo de Moravia raid…we found boxes used to transport cocks illegally from Mexico. They all had logos. The reason why we see the cockpits as a major health and animal welfare concern…”, said Sánchez.
The SENASA director added that in Mexico there is a worrying highly pathogenic of avian influenza, which has killed millions of birds.
Also concerned with the brutal and illegal activity is the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería (MAG) – Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock – and the Fuerza Publica (police), that also work to dismantle organizations involved in cockfighting. MAG officials say that some groups even provide stands for spectators.
Another raided cockfighting operation was in Los Diques, in Cartago, where the SENASA was able to seize 90 cocks.
Other areas identified by authorities where cockfights are held are in Desamparados and the Zona de Los Santos, two areas under close investigation. Cockfighting has also been investigated in Perez Zeledon and La Rita de Pococi.
Cockfighting has been banned in Costa Rica since 1922. However, this is an activity that takes roots in ancient culture and in Costa Rica is said to have the following of thousands, with more than 150 different groups, some of who in the last couple of years have been defending cockfights. Last year the Fighting Cock Breeders Association ran a full page ad in La Nacion.
In support of SENASA is the Humane Society International. “We are pleased to see the resolute efforts on the part of the Costa Rican authorities to crack down on the widespread practice of animal fighting throughout the country,” said Cynthia Dent, regional director for HSI/Latin America. “Appealing to tradition to defend these gory spectacles, where animals are forced to fight each other, often to the death, is simply unconscionable and unbecoming for a country such as Costa Rica.”
In a cockfight, two roosters fight each other to the death while people place bets. Cockfighters let the birds suffer untreated injuries or throw the birds away like trash afterwards. Under normal conditions, roosters rarely ever hurt each other badly during the course of a territorial confrontation. In cockfights, however, the birds are often made to wear razor-sharp blades on their legs that can cause critical injuries such as punctured lungs, broken bones, pierced eyes and multiple lacerations to their skin.
People often bring young children to animal fights. Seeing adults relish such brutality can teach children to enjoy violence while sending the dangerous message that animal suffering is acceptable. In addition to being cruel, animal fighting often goes hand in hand with gambling, drug dealing, illegal gun sales and murder.