Global, especially brutal in Spain, Mexico and South America. Bulls are already hungry, thirsty, stressed, exhausted, usually beaten and often drugged before they even enter the ring, where they endure abuse, humiliation, torture and death. Many variations and forms of torture on this theme, including setting horns afire or attaching firecrackers to them, throwing darts at the bulls, ‘running of the bulls’, etc.
Note: Spain is also notorious for killing other animals in brutal ways, such as throwing goats off towers, beating donkeys to death, beheading geese and ducks, etc. ad nauseum.
Who’s fighting it: Humane Society International, IMAB (International Movement Against Bullfighting), WSPA, SHARK, Igualdad Animal (Spain), Equanimal (Spain)
Each year, more than 40,000 bulls are barbarically slaughtered in Spain’s bullrings. Most foreign visitors who witness a bullfight never wish to see one again. They are repulsed, disgusted and saddened by the cruelty of the spectacle.
At best, the term “bullfighting” is a misnomer, as there is usually little competition between a nimble sword-wielding matador (Spanish for “killer”) and a confused, maimed, psychologically tormented and physically debilitated bull.
One of the biggest supporters of bullfighting is the tourist industry. Travel agents and bullfight promoters portray the fight as a festive and fair competition. What they do not reveal is that the bull never has a chance to defend himself, much less to survive.
Bulls are intentionally debilitated by various means, such as having sandbags dropped on their backs. Drugging is also very common. A study conducted by scientists at Spain’’s Salamanca University found that 20 per cent of the bulls used for fighting are drugged before they step into the ring. In a sampling of 200 bulls, one in five had been given anti-inflammatory drugs, which mask injuries that could sap animals’ strength.
Another common practice is to “shave” bulls’’ horns by sawing off a few inches. Bulls’ horns, like cats’ whiskers, help the animals navigate, so a sudden change impairs their coordination. Shaving is illegal, so the horns are sometimes inspected by a veterinarian after a fight. In 1997, the Confederation of Bullfighting Professionals –– which includes Spain’s 230 matadors –– went on strike in opposition to these veterinary inspections.
In a typical bullfight, the bull enters the arena and is approached by picadors –– cowards on blindfolded horses who drive lances into the bull’s back and neck muscles. This impairs the bull’s ability to lift his head. They twist and gouge the lances to ensure a significant amount of blood loss. Then banderilleros swagger in and proceed to distract the bull and dart around him while plunging banderillas –– bright sticks with harpoon points on their ends –– into his back.
When the bull has become weakened from blood loss, the banderilleros run the bull in more circles until he is dizzy and stops chasing. Finally, the matador appears and, after provoking a few exhausted charges from the dying animal, tries to kill the bull with his sword, and ridiculously struts about as if he had actually done something brave. If he misses, succeeding only in further mutilating the animal, an executioner is called in to stab the exhausted and submissive animal to death. The dagger is supposed to cut the animal’s spinal cord, but even this can be blundered, leaving the bull conscious but paralyzed as he is chained by his horns and dragged out of the arena.
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