Dozens of supporters of the groups People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Anima Naturalis took to the streets of Pamplona on Friday to protest against bullfighting and bull-running in the northern Spanish city.
Animal rights’ groups traditionally stage a protest in front of Pamplona’s town hall on July 5thm a day before the city explodes into revelry at noon on July 6.
“Young bulls who have had very little contact with humans are transported to Pamplona on a long and stressful journey,” Peta wrote in a petition calling for the spectacle to be banned.
“The festival organisers confine them to a small pen for several days. Then, they release them into a noisy, chaotic mob of people – mostly tourists – who chase the terrified animals through the narrow streets of the city. The bulls often crash into walls or lose their footing, sometimes breaking bones,” it continued.
“And that’s not the end of it. Later that day, they’ll be tormented to death in the bullring.
“At least 48 bulls will be barbarically stabbed to death during the festival. The mayor of Pamplona needs to stop this bloodbath,” it said, urging people to sign the petition.
Photo: Ander Gillenea / AFP.
Pamplona’s annual San Fermín festival has become a symbol of Spanish culture, attracting thousands of tourists each year to watch the running of the bulls.
The week-long festivities kick off on Saturday with the chupinazo – a rocket launch at the city hall. The rest of the days are filled with early morning bull runs as people dressed in the traditional white and red outfits run for their lives from a herd of bulls into a stadium.
Bullfights are then held later in the day.
PETA has also in previous years protested the centuries-old tradition, made prominent outside Spain by Ernest Hemingway’s book The Sun Also Rises.
Spain’s tradition bearers have long locked horns with animal-rights activists, who have called for bans on the practice of bullfighting.
Catalonia banned bullfighting events in 2011 after the Canary Islands became the first region to pass a ban in 1991.
Pro-bullfighting groups have fought back against restrictions by getting the tradition protected under Unesco’s cultural heritage list.
But they are on the decline. In 2008, 810 bullfights took place across Spain. Ten years later, there were only 369, according to the culture ministry.