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24 March 1999 Issue
Blazing Cruelty- But Spanish Go Crazy For It

Villagers laugh as bull endures flame torture in firework fiesta
By John Ingham

A panic-stricken bull tosses his head in terror as jeering men turn him into a
sickening live firework display. Blood pours from his nostrils and the acrid
smell of his burning horns fills the air, while he rushes about bellowing in agony
for 30 horror-filled minutes. All he wants is a quick end to his ordeal but
the onlookers, three-hundred residents of the tiny cliff top village of Medinaceli
in Northern Spain, show no sympathy on this bitterly cold night. They just stand
there laughing at the Jubilation Bull. And they add to abject fear by letting off
hundreds of deafening firecrackers.

Film of this cruel episode [was] presented to the European Parliament in
Strasbourg in a bid to get the "sport" outlawed at Medinaceli and 2000 other
village fiestas across Spain. The shocking images were captured by veteran
campaigner Vicky Moore and husband Tony, back on the front line against
animal cruelty for the first time since she was nearly killed while filming the
running of the bulls in Coria, Spain, more than three years ago. Then, a
rampant bull gored her eleven times, smashed eight of her ribs, pierced a lung
and scraped her back bone. Vicky, 40, spent a month in a coma and subse-
quently lost a kidney in a series of operations which only finished last summer.
But just before Christmas, she put her nightmares behind her to return to her
campaign, The Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe. She confessed that
seeing the Medinaceli bull charging toward her brought back terrible memories.
"But I also felt that I had been blessed to have enough stamina to be back in the
front line," she said. "The animal was out of its mind, with sheets of flame
engulfing its head. It was like watching someone being burned at the stake.
You could smell the burning flesh and hear the animal screaming. The festival
was considered so cruel that even General Franco banned it, but it was revived
after his death. Balls of tightly packed hemp, soaked in resin and wax, are tied
to the bull's horns and when they are set on fire with torches, flames shoot
several feet into the air. The film was be shown to the European Parliament's
Intergroup on Welfare and Conservation of Animals, chaired by London West's
Labour Rep Michael Elliott. Vicky hopes that the Parliament will pressure the
Spanish authorities into banning the fire-bull fiestas. But for this bull any action
will be too late. He was killed and eaten in a pre-Christmas village feast. Vicky
dismisses criticism that she is interfering in Spain's ancient culture, claiming
that many fiestas are modern inventions by farmers who can sell a bull to a
festival for up to eight times the price it would fetch for beef.

For more information, contact:
The Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe
29 Shakespeare Street, Southport,
PR8 5AB, England

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