Earlier this month, British actor Stephen Fry added his powerful voice to animal welfare groups calling for an end to real fur bearskin caps worn by the King’s guard.

“Tradition is never an excuse for cruelty,” Fry said, in a BBC report quoting from his narration in a secret video that reportedly exposed how bears were lured and killed for the their skins. The UK Defence Ministry has countered saying, the skins were from “legal and licensed hunts”, the report said.

Fry’s call for faux-fur alternatives to these “ornamental” tall black caps worn by the royal guard, has reignited a discussion in the UK for a more compassionate symbolism.

Back home, a similar discussion brews as bulls are “tamed” or raced in the name of tradition or to showcase indigenous breeds, as claimed by high-profile supporters of such sports, that are increasingly being witnessed across more States.

Even without the disturbing video of a live chicken being fed to a bull — animal races are not fun for the animal. Be it a bull, horse, dog or roosters — they did not sign up for the races or fights. Their owners did.

No one disagrees with the showcasing of indigenous breeds, but there are humane ways of doing this.

In a digital world, owners can make videos of the healthy animal and upload their details. Or invite people to the farm to meet these animals in an open environment without adding to their stress. But to “tame” or “race” them, reduces the entire exercise to a medieval, gladiatorial sport.

Should tradition be the excuse for a civilised society to support cruelty to animals or any sentient being? Instead of seeing this discussion as an affront on a people or practice, may be it’s time to introspect, and chose in favour of a tradition of compassion to all — a benchmark the world and its blood sports could do well to follow, and end.