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Spanish Bullfighting
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In Europe approximately 40,000 bulls die each year. The Bullfight is thought to date back to Roman times when many different species of animal were killed for the sake of entertainment in public arenas. Bulls were also sacrificed for religious purposes and more recently, bullfights were - and often still are - held on Sundays, as part of Christian Saints festivals.

There are 3 types of bullfighting ‘styles’ – Spanish, French and Portuguese. The Spanish version is the most common across both Europe and Latin America. Bulls die in both the Spanish and Portuguese versions, although in the Portuguese style it happens behind the scenes, after the bullfight has finished. The French style does not lead to the death of the bull but is also very stressful for the animals involved.

In the Spanish style, which is the most common, there are 3 stages:

1. After the bull enters the ring, toreros wave capes so that the bull charges several times. This is followed by the entrance of the picadors on horseback, who drive a long spear into the bulls back. Both of these short stages are designed to tire the bull and weaken its neck and shoulder muscles, causing it to drop its head. There is also a significant risk to the horses involved – although they wear padding, the experience is very stressful for them and can cause serious or fatal injury.

2. Men called banderilleros enter the ring and use weapons called banderillas - colourful short spears with harpoon ends which further weaken the bull when they are stabbed into the top of the bulls back. By this point the bull has lost a significant amount of blood and is exhausted.

3. The matador enters with a cape and sword. Tiring the bull further with several runs at the cape, the matador thrusts the sword through the bulls back, with the intention of severing the aorta. The sword often misses, piercing the lungs and the bull drowns in its own blood – as can be witnessed when bulls are often seen with blood pouring from their nose and mouth at the end. If the bull does not die quickly, a small knife is used to sever its spinal cord at the neck. If the crowd deems it a ‘good’ kill, the matador is ‘awarded’ the bull’s ears and tail which he cuts off himself (the bull is often still alive during this).

The whole process takes approximately 20 minutes – and the bull suffers an agonizing and torturous death. In spite of bullfighting being a cruel and inhumane tradition, many people — not only Spaniards — watch this spectacle.

Within bullfighting countries there is a small but strong following that keeps bullfighting alive, largely based on the claim that it is part of the country’s culture. All bullfighting countries have a fascinating history, with a rich culture that they should be proud of. However, evidence is showing us that most citizens of these countries do not want animal cruelty to be part of their heritage. Just as with the ban on foxhunting in the UK, citizens are speaking out about the importance of animal welfare over an archaic ‘tradition’ that is neither necessary nor humane.

The latest polls in Spain show us that over 72% of Spanish people have no interest in bullfighting. This climbs to over 80% in the autonomous region of Catalonia. Anti-bullfighting sentiment is growing across Europe and Latin America – people are standing up against the protection of bullfighting as part of national heritage and calling for an end to this cruel spectacle.

Unfortunately a huge amount of support also comes from tourism; again because tourists are led to believe that bullfighting is part of a particular country. They are unwittingly supporting a dying industry that thrives on the torture of an animal: many leave the fights shaken and disturbed by what they have witnessed, which is, simply, animal cruelty for the sake of entertainment.

The arguments supporters of bullfighting use to defend their tradition are mostly in reference to culture and the economy. You can read more on these ongoing debates at www.bullfightingfreeeurope.org, a website sponsored by WSPA and ten other animal protection groups across Europe.

In Spain, there is a small group of powerful and influential people behind the bullfighting industry that are keeping it alive. Bullrings are suffering from declining attendance and a lack of patience from the public in terms of its increasing awareness of animal welfare. Unfortunately, government officials often hesitate to speak out against the spectacle; as was the case a few years ago with foxhunting in the UK. However, the Spanish people are telling us they have had enough, as shown in Catalonia and the Canary Islands - who have also banned bullfighting - and by the recent banning of the broadcast of bullfights on state TV, following the assertion that it is too violent for children. We think it is about time that the government listens to its citizens and ends bullfighting for good in Spain.

From an article at: thedarkphantom.wordpress.com

The Spanish State Broadcaster TVE has confirmed that it will no longer emit Spain’s ‘National Fiesta’, the bullfight. A statement to Congress from the President of the company, Luis Fernández, said that the decision had been made some three years ago, not because it does not understand bullfighting, but purely because of the high cost of broadcasting such events, and a recent rejection of them by advertisers.

In the photos there is one of an anti-bullfighting demonstrator sitting amid others laying covered in fake blood while holding signs that read 'Bullfight abolition' at the Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas on May 24, 2009 in Madrid, Spain. At this event an estimated group of 300 demonstrators protested for the abolition of bullfighting.







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