Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 10 January 2007 Issue
Bullfighting's future in doubt
By Fiona Govan in Madrid
Daniel Hannan: In praise of bullfighting Bullfighting was facing an uncertain future in Spain yesterday with the announcement that the last bullring in Barcelona is to close after failing to draw enough spectators. The Monumental Plaza de Toros in Barcelona is to close due to falling crowds
The rising cost of mounting a spectacle that a growing number of Spaniards view as a cruel and unnecessary part of their culture has forced the promoters of the Monumental Plaza de Toros to cut their losses and look for alternatives uses for the ring.
The company which owns the bullring admitted that the falling number of spectators meant that it lost more than £16,000 each time it held a bullfight.
The closure next year of the last bullring in Catalonia's capital city follows that of two others in recent years - one of which is being transformed into a shopping centre designed by Lord Rogers of Riverside.
Promoters across Spain have seen their profits fall as it becomes ever-more expensive to stage the events. The Spanish Union of Fighting Bull Breeders estimates that it can cost more than £70,000 to stage a corrida with a big- name bullfighter.
There are 60 major venues used for bullfights in Spain but many are used more for other activities, such as rock concerts, than for corrida.
The industry has been hardest hit in Catalonia, in part because of a growing animal rights movement that has sought to ban a sport it considers "a horrible cruelty".
Two years ago, Barcelona declared itself "an anti-bullfighting city" following a series of public protests and a petition of more than 250,000 Catalan names.
Another 38 Catalan municipalities have since followed suit and the Parliament has debated a Bill to extend existing animal cruelty laws to include bullfighting.
"Historically, the people of Catalonia have been against cruelty to animals and we are at the forefront of a movement that is gradually growing across Spain," said Manuel Cases, the director of the animal protection group ADDA, which has spearheaded the campaign to abolish bullfights.
But the anti-bullfighting movement in Catalonia has long been seen by the rest of Spain as yet another way for the region to express its independence from Madrid.
Despite assertions by the bullfighting industry that it is thriving outside Catalonia, especially in Andalusia, Extremadura and Madrid, a recent poll revealed that its popularity was waning.
According to the Gallup survey in October, only 27 per cent of Spaniards expressed any interest in bullfighting, while 72 per cent declared no interest whatsoever.
Over the past 30 years interest has steadily fallen, starting at a high of 55 per cent in 1971, dropping to 46 per cent in 1980, 31 per cent in 1992, before hitting the present figure.
The Spanish daily newspaper El Pais yesterday gave warning that as Barcelona usually provided the "yardstick" for all things cultural across Spain, the closure of its final bullring should be taken seriously.
It urged those interested in the corrida to "Run, run, before it is gone forever."
VERY IMPORTANT: Editors note, for more on the horrors of bullfighting visit: http://www.sharkonline.org/?P=0000000423
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