Annual Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival set to take place today

07 September 2019

The “traditional” festival is a horribly violent and cruel spectacle of animal suffering.

The annual Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival will take place today, Sept 7. The event occurs annually in Vietnam’s Hai Phong province. 

Prior to the contests, owners do everything possible to agitate their buffalo into an aggressive state, banging gongs close to their heads, causing disorientation and profound stress which they then unleash on their equally distressed opponent.

After the fight, no animals ever survive. The buffaloes are taken out of the area, maimed and bleeding, and are violently killed and butchered so their meat can be sold for exorbitant sums. 

Despite Animals Asia’s annual protests of the festival and attempts to have it cancelled, this year the only change will be that organizers have requested the number of buffaloes used in the festival events (the Do Son and Hai Luu) to be reduced by half. While that is an improvement, the suffering of even one buffalo is one too many.

Animals Asia Animal Welfare Officer, Nguyen Tam Thanh said:

“As a spectacle of violence and animal cruelty, the Do Son buffalo fights stand alone in Vietnamese culture. As Vietnam enters a new era of evolution and modernity, we call upon officials to end this cruel event. We should be setting an example for future generations with our benevolence toward animals. We should be teaching the children of Vietnam to respect animals, not abuse them.”

The event was almost shut down in 2017 after a trainer was gored to death by his own buffalo. That tragedy, along with a demand by the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism that all “uncivilised” festivals be abolished, should have seen Vietnam move away from this 30-year-old “tradition”. But instead it has been permitted to not only continue, last year the event was allowed to return to national television airwaves in the country. Viewers could see trainers deliberately sharpening the horns of their buffaloes to raise the level of violence further.

Bleeding buffalo after the fight

Animals Asia Animal Welfare Director Dave Neale said:

“Despite demands by officials, sadly Vietnam still does not have a specific law to stop people from deliberately harming animals for entertainment. As long as these bloody fighting contests featuring animals such as dogs, cocks, goats and buffaloes continue, they will continue to be a stain on Vietnam’s image. 

“The government and the vast majority of people want nothing to do with animal cruelty, but nobody has stepped up to stop it.”

Vietnam passed its first animal welfare legislation in 2016 in the form of the Animal Health law, but there is presently no provision to punish those who carry out cruelty to animals. 


While amending a law is a long legal process which can take years, Animals Asia is petitioning the government to introduce and implement a Circular that would change the existing Animal Health law – a move which can happen far more quickly to outlaw deliberate cruelty to animals such as the Do Son Buffalo Fighting festival. 

This year, Animals Asia has invited representatives from the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism to judge and witness the event firsthand in the hope of persuading them to end it once and for all. We have also asked children and young adults to submit drawings of buffalo suffering at the festival along with drawings of buffalo being treated well under the umbrella theme, "Respect the Lives of our Buffalo". These drawings will be sent to the Ministry after the festival. 

It’s time to end the Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival — a cruel spectacle masquerading as entertainment. Please sign our petition calling for the establishment of proper animal welfare laws in Vietnam.

* Note: Images and video used in this news story are file photos and video from previous festivals