Photo: Heath Johnson/Shutterstock

New Zealand's Traditional Running of the Sheep to Be Ended?

by Julie Schwietert Apr 17, 2009

Here at Matador, we’re big fans of unusual festivals.

Matador Trips co-editor Carlo Alcos recently featured several of Finland’s strangest celebrations.

Contributing writer Michael Ward penned a guide to running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

Matador member Christine Gilbert blogged about La Tomatina (also in Spain) and I’ve written about a local bullfight festival in Colombia.

No matter where you roam, these types of events immerse you in local life in a way that few other experiences can approximate.

So we’re sad to hear that New Zealand is considering canceling future Running of the Sheep events, a tradition akin to the running of the bulls.

After this year’s run, which resulted in the injury of a spectator when a sheep jumped off course and into the crowd of onlookers, officials called for a safety review of the event. Animal rights advocates also chimed in, adding that the sheep wouldn’t have jumped the barriers intended to keep them on the running course if the conditions weren’t so anxiety-provoking for them.

My own opinion? If you’re going to one of these events, you know–and accept–the risk. But what’s your opinion? Should some of the world’s most unique, unusual events be discontinued for safety purposes? Share your comments below.

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