15 Jul 2011
IN Wednesday’s Advertiser there was a photograph of a group of bulls careering down a narrow street in Pamplona.
Runners with bulls during the San Fermin Festival this week in Pamplona, Spain. A symbol of Spanish culture, it draws thousands of tourists.
The lead bull looked as though he was about to crash heavily to the ground and would, no doubt, have sustained painful injuries including broken bones. Later, in the bullring, these innocent bulls would be killed in a most brutal manner.
Viewing this photograph, I was struck by certain similarities between Spain and Australia.
For example, the Spanish Government supports and defends the cruel bullfighting industry. The Australian Government supports and defends the cruel live export industry.
The bullfighting industry claims that bullfighting is important for the economy and provides employment for many people. Australia’s live export industry makes the same claim.
The Spanish Government uses large amounts of taxpayer money to bolster the bullfighting industry. The Australian Government uses large amounts of taxpayer money to bolster the live export industry.
Before being killed in the bullring, bulls may be hit in the kidneys and testicles and have vaseline rubbed in their eyes. Their hoofs may be coated with a substance that burns their flesh.
Before being killed in foreign slaughterhouses, cattle may be punched and kicked in the face and have their eyes gouged. Their tails and legs may be broken and their tendons slashed with knives.
Spanish bulls are killed by having a sword thrust between their shoulder-blades and into their hearts. If the lungs are mistakenly pierced, the animal drowns in its own blood. Australian exported cattle are killed by having their necks cut in a back and forth sawing motion approximately 11 times and up to 33 times. They slowly choke to death on their own blood.
One difference between the way Spanish bulls are treated and the way Australian animals are treated is that the fighting bulls are condemned to a maximum of two days suffering, whereas our exported animals are condemned to many weeks of suffering prior to their gruesome deaths. So gruelling is the sea voyage that, in the past 30 years, more than two million animals have failed to survive the journey. The animals die from starvation, stress, illness, infection, pneumonia, extreme temperatures, inadequate ventilation and injuries. Some ships catch on fire. In 1980, a fire on the Farid Fares resulted in the death of 40,605 sheep. Other times they sink. In 1996, 1592 cattle drowned when the Guernsey Express sank on its way to Japan. When the Cormo Express was refused permission to unload in 2003 about 6000 sheep died during the three month voyage. Those that survived the voyage must have suffered unimaginably, tightly confined and almost up to their necks in their own in liquid waste.
Finally, most Spaniards want bullfighting banned and most Australians want live export banned. Bullfighting and live exports are both cruel and unjustifiable – and both bring shame to their respective countries.