31 Aug, 2010 @ 11:10
2 mins read

What a lot of old bull

By Wendy Williams

BACK in the old days when a bull had fought bravely, the public – or even the matador – could petition the president of the plaza to grant the animal an indulto or a pardon.

The bull’s life would then be spared and it would be allowed to leave the ring and go on to father other strong bulls.

This week, footage was released of an incredibly brave and valiant animal that decided to fight back and leapt spectacularly over the fence and into the crowd at a bull fight.

In the commotion that followed, at least 30 people were injured and a ten-year old boy was left in a serious condition as terrified spectators tried to flee the scene.

Officials then succeeded in tying a rope around the bull to bring it under control, before it was removed from the arena and killed.

Surely they could have tranquilised the terrified creature rather than just kill it

Now, what happened to the unsuspecting members of the audience was shocking and I am sure they were scared.

And I appreciate that when an animal is running amok at the risk of the public it must be controlled in some way.

But surely it would have been possible to give the poor creature, which must have been terrified to be driven over the barriers, some form of tranquiliser rather than having to kill it?

Surely this bull had proven its worth.

This brings us to the crux of the argument that surrounds this controversial sport; the matter of animal cruelty and the fact that the matador chooses to be there but the bull does not.

Supporters argue it is a culturally important tradition; an art form similar to dancing and music.

Those against, denounce it as a blood sport that causes the suffering of the bulls; animal cruelty deceptively masked as culture.

Safe to say, nearly everyone has an opinion on the subject.

Now, Catalonia has become the first major Spanish region to ban the controversial sport and the topic is once again at the fore with bull stories flooding the media.

In Bilbao this week, 150 animal rights demonstrators stripped naked in front of the Guggenheim museum to protest against the bullfighting season.

And in Malaga they were forced to cancel the second bull-fighting event of the city’s annual fiesta after vets rejected all the animals which had been provided for the afternoon’s corrida.

But what does the future hold for this tradition that, love it or hate it, dates back to prehistoric Spain.

According to a recent article in El Pais, 60 per cent of Spaniards do not like bullfighting, but nearly as many 57 per cent oppose the ban in Catalonia.

This, however, may have more to do with the fact that 58 percent thought its prohibition in the semi-autonomous region was because bullfighting is “an exclusively Spanish festival,” compared to 36 percent who thought animal welfare was the real motive.

This is particularly interesting when you compare Catalonia to the Basque country where people also strive for their independence from Spain but where you can see the running of the bulls each July and there are dozens of bullfights every week.

Either way, bull fighting is certainly in decline but it is not yet dead, unlike the bull that jumped into the crowd.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

Do you have a story? Contact newsdesk@theolivepress.es


  1. Odd how there is no hue and cry to ban beef or other meats from our plates as the cruelty in factory farming is incalculably worse.
    I’m not a vegetarian and I have worked in the meat processing industry and farming.
    I know from experience that the deaths of fighting bulls are not much worse from a slaughter house where the animals quickly realise that they are about to die, but fighting bulls have a much longer idyllic life compared to beef raised for consumption.

  2. Ben. Well said.
    But there is also the dairy industry, which vegetarians often tell us does not involve killing animals. Possibly some of them genuinely believe it.

  3. And incidentally Wendy, in case you genuinely did not know,

    “Back in the old days when a bull had fought bravely, the public – or even the matador – could petition the president of the plaza to grant the animal an indulto or a pardon. The bull’s life would then be spared and it would be allowed to leave the ring and go on to father other strong bulls.”

    They still can. It happens about ten times a year across Spain. Gold handerchief and so on.

  4. Ben and PeterMac – I don’t know how on earth you can justify bullfighting by comparing it with the meat industry – food is necessary for human survival whereas bullfighting is not.

    The death of an animal in an abattoir is not enjoyed by thousands of people. It is for the sole purpose for providing food whereas bullfighting is purely to provide blood sport entertainment. Entertainment which is unnecessary and cruel.

    The bull is seriously weakened before it enters the ring and then again by the picadors. It’s horns are blunted. It has no chance. The bullfight is not a fair fight – there is usually only one winner and that is the “brave” matador armed with his sharp spears and swords.

    Then of course there is the suffering suffered by the horses – gorings – which is never mentioned and conveniently ignored by supporters.

    Meat is arguably a necessary evil, bullfighting and any other blood sport for human entertainment is not.

    You’ll find the vast majority of meat eaters know the difference between the need to kill for food and the unnecessary pastime of killing purely to satisfy a lust and gain pleasure and enjoyment.

    To imply meat eaters who are against bullfighting are hypocrites is a slur on their intelligence and compassion and a pathetic attempt to justify your support for such a barbaric form of “entertainment.”

    For any “human” to enjoy watching an animal being teased and tormented, and stabbed to weaken it (causing blood loss and pain) before it is eventually stabbed through the heart, must have something seriously wrong with them. It’s as if civilization hasn’t reached them.

    A human being has no right to inflict such misery on another living creature and those that take pleasure in it are sick. It’s incomprehensible.

    I would ask any bullfighting fan to imagine they are in the position of the bull – would you enjoy being teased, tormented and stabbed and forced to fight for your life as you are forced to run about, dying, and in pain as thousands cheered, eager for your death?

    What has happened to human compassion? Are you bereft of it?

  5. Jane,
    Thank for your comments.
    A couple of factual points first. The bull is NOT ‘seriously weakened’ before it enters the ring. If it were, the vet would not permit it to continue.
    Its horns are NOT blunted. That is a most serious offence, punishable with imprisonment, and horns are routinely tested.
    There are very few cases of a horse being gored. Picadors’ horses are fully protected, rejoneadors’ are nimble enough to get out of the way.
    “I would ask any fan to imagine they are in the position …” This is called the fallacy of ‘Emotional Appeal’. Or anthropomorphism if you prefer.
    Where is the evidence that the bull feels it is being ‘teased.. and forced to fight for its life.’ It is simply attacking the object in front of it, as it has done in the wild all its long life thus far. A couple of sharp points in its shoulder are probably nothing more than a cut from a thorn or a bit of barbed wire.
    Have you ever watched a vet operating on a cow or a horse ?
    “It’s incomprehensible.” I think you should have added ‘to me’.
    Some of us do comprehend, and view the corrida at a different level.
    For some people ballet is just a few gays prancing around in tights. For others it is a thing of beauty which can speak at an emotional level.
    Paintings are more than just coloured oil on canvas, music is more than just vibrations moving through air.
    The corrida is a very complex thing.
    I respect your right to dislike it.

  6. Jane, watch out – calling the Spanish uncivilised and sick will have the OP Race Police after you – Mr Schoefield will be taking notes as well of course.

    You will never convince the Spanish that bullfighting is cruel; I had one guy telling me that the bull could not feel the swords being thrust into it a few weeks back. You just couldn’t make it up could you…

  7. I am assuming the bull suffers pain and dies? Er, no Peter. The capacity to feel and suffer pain is common to all mammals. You just have some very strange beliefs lol. I see Andalucia is now debating getting rid of bullfighting. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

  8. Peter…for God’s sake get real. Vets operate under anaesthetic. Animals feel nothing.
    Of COURSE the bulls feel pain; that’s what maddens them. It’s only when they’ve been weakened and exhausted that the matador — literal translation ‘slaughterer’ — can manage to kill them. Bull’fighting’ is a mis-nomered, cowardly, sadistic and thoroughly pseudo-macho pursuit carried out — and enjoyed — by similarly-described people.

  9. Interesting article today. The EU need to stop funding for this barbaric act asap. Disgusting.


  10. Idiots. “food is necessary for human survival”. What’s your point?
    Jane writes “The death of an animal in an abattoir is not enjoyed by thousands of people”. Jane we don’t eat meat for survival, we don’t need to, we wont fade away if we never eat beef again, we do it, you do it, because you enjoy it. Unless you’re writing your comments as a survivor of a plane crash in the deepest panatal that is, awaiting rescue.

    Why is your frozen withshire farm foods meat pie or the burgers for your kids bbq “arguably a necessary evil”? You do it because you want to. That’s all. So because you want to do it and enjoy it that makes it ok? But you don’t enjoy bull-fighting so it should be banned? It’s not part of your “civilisation” so it should be subsumed and abolished?

    The bottom line is this.
    There is far more cruelty, fear, pain, mistreatment and inhumanity involved in the production, transport and processing of what you feel the “need” to stuff in your mouth and far more people enjoy it. It’s still wrong. They both are, but on balance your burger is the blacker of two sins. Your hypocrisy is as breathtaking as it’s nausating.


  12. Schoefield, stick to Spain and stop changing the subject all the time to try and hide your failing argument. One cat in a bin can’t be compared to ritual torture… wise up. Anyway, where have you been? I have posted at least a dozen replies and you have not been moderating at all. Come on Schoefield, get with it. lol.

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