In Which Bulls Attempt to Get the Hell Up Out of Here

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In Which Bulls Attempt to Get the Hell Up Out of Here

By Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF)

File under: another failed attempt at interspecies communication.

Canadian Bull (to himself): Those hosers in the big hats want to tie a strap to my what??

Last week, a very large bull (various news reports have placed his weight between 1,300 and 1,600 pounds) “participating” in the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton, Canada made a break for it, bolting from Rexall Place Arena mid-event. While being videotaped by audience members, the ”bucking” bull named Rewind leapt over a fence and into the stands, injuring four spectators.

Over the same weekend, another half-ton bull who would have been well advised not to buy any green bananas prior to his “participation” in a bullfight in Mexico City made a similar lurch out of the ring, over a fence, and into the stands. The U.K.’s ever-undramatic Daily Mail described “shocking footage in which the animal appears to target its tormentors.” Perhaps the revolution will be televised?

Or perhaps the motives of these scheming bulls were not so nefarious. Just possibly, it went more like this:

Canadian Bull (to himself): Those hosers in the big hats want to tie a strap to my what??

Mexican Bull (to himself): Dios mio, the guy in the ice skating outfit is about to stab me to death.

Given their respective dire straits, let’s you and I put our relatively lightweight (in terms of poundage, I mean) human brains together and try to interpret the puzzling actions of these bulls—or, as their escapes were otherwise described by event organizers, “fluke” and “unpredictable.” Could it be that these animals were trying to tell us something? But what? Brain struggling….So. Hard. To. Interpret. When a half-ton animal leaps in terror over a tall barrier to escape from a ring where he is being electric prodded/squeezed/spurred/stabbed—what is he trying to say??

No wonder it’s such a challenging enterprise for us to draft effective laws protecting animals, what with their basic interests being so elusive, their actions—so subtle. However, voters and lawmakers just might be starting to get the message. In the name of animal protection, progressive jurisdictions throughout the U.S., North America, and the world are starting to ban rodeos outright or otherwise to place legal restrictions on them, including bans on horse-tripping, calf-roping, and the use of electric prods, flank straps, and spurs.

Meanwhile, numerous countries have banned bullfighting, and this past summer, the parliament of the Spanish region of Catalonia cast an historic vote to prohibit bullfighting—the first ever such ban in mainland Spain.

I can’t help but wonder if last week’s runaway Mexican bull was simply following a course of action that seemed to work, well enough, for Mexican bullfighter Christian Hernandez earlier this summer. As described in the New York Daily News, the 22-year-old “terrified toreador,” when faced with a charging bull, made the decision to run from the ring mid-fight, making a frightened leap over the wall to relative safety outside the ring. Hernandez was arrested and fined for breaking his contract, and soon thereafter announced his retirement.

Unfortunately, voluntary retirement has proven to be an elusive option for both bulls making headlines for their recent attempted escapes. At the Plaza de Toros, the rampaging bull was returned to the ring and the fight continued as planned—rendering vain the bull’s last desperate attempt to escape death for the sake of a shameful, bloody “sport.” Meanwhile in Edmonton, Tyler Thomson, who raised Rewind, told the Edmonton Journal that while Rewind will not be competing in any additional events this year "He'll be back. He just needs to be seasoned a little more."

Oh shoot. We all know where seasoning leads. Just ask the turkeys in the U.S. this week...

Run, Rewind. Run!